OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of lumbosacral spine (LSS) abnormalities in children with defecation disorders, intractable constipation, or non-retentive fecal incontinence (NRFI) and evaluate whether LSS abnormalities on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are clinically detected by neurologic examination.
STUDY DESIGN: MRI of the LSS and complete neurologic examination by a pediatric neurologist blinded to the MRI results were performed in patients with intractable defecation disorders.
RESULTS: Patients with intractable constipation (n = 130; 76 males; median age, 11 years; range, 6-18 years), and patients with NRFI (n = 28; 18 males; median age, 10 years; range, 7-15 years) participated. One occult spina bifida (OSB) and 3 terminal filum lipomas were found in patients with a normal neurologic examination. One patient had a terminal filum lipoma and neurologic complaints. Gluteal cleft deviation was found in 3 of 4 patients with LSS abnormalities. Neurosurgical treatment was not required in any patient during the 12-week follow-up.
CONCLUSIONS: MRI showed LSS abnormalities in 3% of patients with defecation disorders and normal neurologic examination, all of whom reported symptom relief at the 12-week follow-up without neurosurgical intervention. Thus, whether or not LSS abnormalities play a role in defecation disorders remains unclear.