Are We Using Abdominal Radiographs Appropriately in the Management of Pediatric Constipation?

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ObjectiveTo identify the reasons why pediatric gastroenterologists obtain abdominal radiographs in the management of pediatric constipation.Study designThis was a prospective study surveying providers regarding their rationale, interpretation, resultant change, and confidence in their management before and after obtaining KUBs in patients seen for suspected constipation. Demographics and clinical findings were obtained from medical records.ResultsA total of 24 providers were surveyed after 72 patient encounters. Reasons for obtaining an abdominal radiograph included evaluation of stool burden (70%), need for a clean out (35%), fecal impaction (27%), cause of abdominal pain (24%), demonstration of stool burden to families (14%), assessment of response to therapy (13%), or encopresis (10%). The plan was changed in 47.6% of cases based on radiographic findings. In cases in which a plan was outlined before obtaining the radiograph (69%), the initial plan was implemented on average in 52.5%. In cases with no plans before obtaining the radiograph, previously unconsidered plans were implemented in 8.7%. Provider confidence in the management plan increased from 2.4 ± 2.7 to 4.1 ± 1.8 (P < .05) after the abdominal radiograph.ConclusionAbdominal radiographs commonly are obtained by pediatric gastroenterologists in the evaluation and management of constipation. The majority used it to make a diagnosis, and nearly one-half changed their management based on the imaging findings. Overall, they reported an improved confidence in their management plan, despite evidence that radiographic findings poorly correlate with clinical severity. This study highlights the need for further provider education regarding the recommendations delineated in existing constipation guidelines.

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