Children with severe constipation and a neurodiverse disorder (Autism and/or developmental delay) represent a challenging bowel management group. Treatment outcomes with laxative or enema therapy remain limited and are often complicated by patient/caregiver compliance. We hypothesized that children with neurodiverse disorders and severe constipation would benefit from a bowel management program (BMP) that includes early use of antegrade enemas.
Children requiring BMP in the Pediatric Colorectal and Pelvic Learning Consortium (PCPLC) registry with diagnosis of constipation and/or constipation with pseudo-incontinence were reviewed. Those with Hirschsprung disease and/or Anorectal Malformation were excluded. BMP needs in patients with a neurodiverse diagnosis were compared to those without to evaluate differences in BMP’s.
372 patients requiring a BMP were identified. 95 patients (58 autism spectrum, 54 developmental delay) were neurodiverse, and 277 patients were not. Neurodiverse patients had a higher prevalence of enema therapy 62.1% (59/95) vs. 54.9% (152/273) and use of antegrade enema therapy 33.7% (32/95) vs. 21.2% (58/273), p = 0.126. Neurodiverse patients were older 37.9% (36/95) > 12 years vs. 23.1% (63/273), p = 0.001 and 47.6% (10/21) were changed from laxative to enema therapy over time. 80% (8/10) of those changed from laxatives to enemas used antegrade therapy. 67.3% (35/52) of neurodiverse patients followed over time were on enema therapy at the most recent visit with 80% (28/35) requiring antegrade therapy.
A large portion of patients with a neurodiverse disorder who fail laxative therapy use antegrade enemas to achieve effective bowel management. Early consideration of an antegrade conduit may simplify treatment in this group of children.

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