Official reprint from UpToDate®
www.uptodate.com ©2017 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

Medline ® Abstract for Reference 43

of 'Chronic functional constipation and fecal incontinence in infants and children: Treatment'

How to resolve stool retention in a child. Underwear soiling is not a behavior problem.
Griffin GC, Roberts SD, Graham G
Postgrad Med. 1999;105(1):159.
Many parents do not realize their child has stool retention when they bring him or her for an office visit. Some complaints that may be a tip-off and should prompt questioning about stool frequency and underwear soiling are vague abdominal pain, urinary incontinence, and stools so large they plug the toilet. A rectal examination is usually adequate to confirm the diagnosis. Management begins with educating parents that leaking of liquid stool around impaction and onto underwear is completely involuntary, so the child should never be scolded or embarrassed. Stool retention may begin because of unpleasant or unavailable toilet facilities, constipation, or painful elimination and often becomes self-perpetuating. Impaction must be removed immediately; magnesium citrate solution is usually effective. To allow the rectum to return to its normal size, which can take an extended time, stool must be kept soft and movable with administration of mineral oil and appropriate dietary choices (eg, fruit, juice, fiber). Recurrence is common, so ongoing measures and follow-up are important.
Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, Provo, USA. ggriffin@micron.net