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Bowel transit studies in children: evidence base, role and practicalities
  1. Mara Popescu1,
  2. Mohamed Mutalib1,2
  1. 1Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, King's College London, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Evelina London Children's Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mohamed Mutalib, Evelina London Children's Hospital, London SE1 7EH, UK; mohamed.mutalib{at}


Constipation is common in children and adults with varied worldwide prevalence. The majority of children have functional constipation as defined by Rome clinical criteria and respond favourably to standard medical therapy; up to one-third can develop difficult-to-treat constipation requiring investigation and specialist treatment. Colon function tests aim to assess the neuromuscular integrity, the movement of faeces across the colon and evaluate/predict response to the therapy. The ‘ideal’ test should be practical, non-invasive, widely available and cost-effective. None of the available diagnostic tools is designed to provide a comprehensive assessment of colon function and clinicians often have to combine more than one test to answer different questions. In this review, we aim to assess the strengths and limitations of the commonly available diagnostic investigations (radiopaque marker studies, scintigraphy, wireless motility capsule and colonic manometry) used to assess colon transit in children and to provide guidance on the most appropriate test for particular clinical settings.

  • colorectal physiology
  • constipation
  • gastrointestinal motility
  • motility disorders

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  • Contributors MP conducted the literature search, wrote the first draft and approved the final version of the manuscript. MM reviewed the literature search, edited and wrote the manuscript, and approved the final version of the manuscript. MM acts as the overall guarantor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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