Constipation refers to producing less than three bowel movements a week. Chronic constipation is much more severe; a person may not pass a bowel movement for weeks or potentially longer. Unfortunately, new research outlines that even in cases of severe constipation surgery may not be beneficial.
Current severe constipation protocol involves the surgical removal of a part of the colon – called a subtotal colectomy. The research team uncovered that over the span of 13 years (1998 to 2011) subtotal colectomy surgeries tripled from 104 to 311. From those who received the surgery 43 percent endured complications while still hospitalized and 29 percent had to be re-hospitalized 30 days after the surgery.
Senior author of the study, Dr. Klaus Bielefeldt, said, “Stool frequency often increases after the surgery, and while this may well sound like success when we think about one of the defining characteristics, it is only one of many factors.”
“Our study clearly shows that the simple increase in stool frequency is not enough to decrease the need for ongoing and often costly care. Perhaps more importantly, the surgical approach comes with significant and concerning side effects that affect nearly half of those operated, meaning the risk is high and the promised benefit may be limited,” Dr. Bielefeldt concluded.
The findings were published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
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