Total colonic manometry as a guide for surgical management of functional colonic obstruction: Preliminary results

Matthew J. Martin, Scott R. Steele, James M. Noel, David Weichmann, Kenneth S. Azarow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background/Purpose: Functional colonic obstruction (pseudo-obstruction) encompasses a broad group of motility disorders. Medical management of colonic pseudo-obstruction is complex and often fails, leading to surgical referral. In most cases (excepting Hirschsprung's disease) the surgeon is unable to precisely localize the area of functional obstruction. Total colonic manometry can directly measure intraluminal pressures and contractile function along the entire length of the colon. The authors propose that total colonic manometry can be used by the pediatric surgeon to guide the timing and extent of surgical therapy in refractory functional colonic obstruction. Methods: Four patients were evaluated for functional colonic obstruction. All underwent barium enema and rectal biopsy with a diagnosis of Hirschsprung's disease in one patient. All patients underwent colonoscopy and total colonic manometry. Manometric tracings were obtained while fasting, after feeding, and after pharmacologic stimulation both preoperatively (n = 4) and postoperatively (n = 3). Results:Total colonic manometry identified an abrupt end of normal peristalsis in 2 of the non-Hirschsprung's patients (one in the proximal colon and one in the transverse colon). Medical therapy failed in both of these patients, and they underwent diverting ostomy proximal to the loss of normal peristalsis. The third non-Hirschsprung's patient essentially had normal manometry and was able to have her colon decompressed successfully on a laxative regimen. Repeat manometry after colonic decompression showed return of normal peristalsis in 2 of these patients and continued abnormal peristaltic activity in the third. Definitive surgical intervention based on the results of total colonic manometry was performed on the latter. All 3 patients achieved normal continence. A fourth patient had Hirschsprung's disease confirmed by rectal biopsy and underwent a 1-stage neonatal modified Duhamel procedure, which was complicated by postoperative functional obstruction. Manometry showed a lack of peristaltic function beginning in the right colon. An ileostomy was performed, and timing of ileostomy closure was guided by the return of normal colonic peristalsis seen on manometry. Conclusions: These initial cases show the utility of total colonic manometry in the management of colonic pseudo-obstruction syndromes. In addition to its diagnostic utility, direct measurement of colonic motor activity can be valuable in deciding the need for and timing of diversion, the extent of resection, and the suitability of the patient for restoring bowel continuity. In Hirschsprung's disease, total colonic manometry can potentially be used to determine suitability for primary neonatal pull-through versus a staged approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1757-1763
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Colonic manometry
  • Functional colonic obstruction
  • Hirschsprung's disease
  • Pseudo-obstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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