Anorectal manometry in pediatric settings: A systematic review of 227 studies

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2020 Oct 28;e14006. doi: 10.1111/nmo.14006.Online ahead of print.

Gregory Yates 1 2, Florian Friedmacher 1 2 3, Stewart Cleeve 1 2, Eleni Athanasakos 1 2


Author information

  • 1Department of Paediatric Surgery, The Royal London Hospital, London, UK.
  • 2Barts and The London, School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK.
  • 3Department of Pediatric Surgery, Goethe University Frankfurt, University Hospital Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, UK.


Background: There is wide variation in the clinical use of diagnostic tools for children with chronic constipation and functional/structural fecal incontinence (CCFSFI). Anorectal manometry (ARM) is a well-recognized technique to assess the function of the anorectum.

Purpose: Our aim was to perform an up-to-date review on ARM in pediatric patients with CCFSFI, with specific focus on the indication of use and protocol. Variation of its use in pediatrics will be explored.

Methods: A systematic search was conducted for empirical studies utilizing ARM with a pediatric sample. A keyword search of literature published in English before July 2018 was conducted and updated to October 2019. Data on demographics, clinical information, study aims, ARM parameters and use of sedation/anesthesia were collected.

Key results: A total of 227 studies were included in this systematic review. The age of study participants at the time of ARM ranged from birth to 18 years. ARM was most commonly used in patients with organic conditions (65%) compared to functional constipation (41%). In almost half [108/227 (48%)] of the studies, ARM was performed awake. The ARM parameters most frequently assessed were the rectoanal inhibitory reflex, which was evaluated in 198/227 studies (87%) and the anal resting pressure [166/227 studies (73%)].

Conclusions and inferences: This systematic review has highlighted the vast variation of ARM use within pediatrics and the need to strive toward standardization and use of consensus guidelines. We anticipate this will further advance our understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms involved in children with defecation disorders.

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