Home transcutaneous electrical stimulation to treat children with slow-transit constipation.
Slow transit constipation is a common disorder in children, which often does not respond well to ordinary treatments. We have conducted a systematic review of reported studies in order to better define the current state of knowledge about electrical stimulation treatment of slow transit constipation in children. We searched PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, BioMed Central, and ISI Web of Knowledge with relevant terms; six studies, all from one center, met the criteria for inclusion. Two trials were randomized clinical trials, and four were prospective studies. The number of subjects included in the studies was 8 to 39, with ages 3 to 18 years. Treatment sessions varied from 20 to 30 min 3 times per week to 1 h daily, and duration of therapy varied from 3 weeks to 6 months. Statistically significant improvements after electrical stimulation therapy were recorded in one to four outcome measures in each of the studies: frequency of defecation, soiling, Bristol Stool Scale, radionuclear transit studies, and quality of life; however, the improvements were of modest degree and of uncertain clinical significance. Quality assessment of the studies found various levels of bias, with attrition bias and reporting bias in all six. This systemic review found moderate support for the effectiveness of electrical stimulation therapy in slow transit constipation in children. However, better-designed studies, with larger and more diverse patient populations followed for longer time periods, will be needed in order to reliably determine the efficacy of electrical stimulation therapy in the treatment of this disorder.