Bowel management and continence in adults with spina bifida: Results from the National Spina Bifida Patient Registry 2009-15

Academic Article


  • INTRODUCTION: Advances in care have allowed most children with spina bifida (SB) to live to adulthood. The majority have neuropathic bowel dysfunction (NBD), resulting in constipation, incontinence, and diminished quality of life. We sought to 1) describe contemporary NBD management and continence outcomes of adults with SB; 2) describe differences from younger patients; and 3) assess for association with socio-economic factors. METHODS: We analyzed data on NBD management and continence from the National Spina Bifida Patient Registry (NSBPR). Patients were segregated into young children (5-11 years), adolescents (12-19 years), and adults (20 years and older). A strict definition of continence was utilized. Statistical analysis compared cohorts by gender, ethnicity, SB type, lesion level, insurance status, educational attainment, employment status, and continence. RESULTS: A total of 5209 SB patients were included, of whom 1370 (26.3%) were adults. Management and continence varied by age and SB type. Oral medication use did not differ between groups (5.2-6.6%). Suppositories and rectal enemas were used only by 11.5% of adults, which was significantly less than among school-aged children. Antegrade enemas were used by 17.7% of adults which was significantly less than among adolescents (27.2%). Adults were more likely to use digital stimulation or disimpaction or have undergone a colostomy. Bowel continence was reported by 58.3% of overall adult cohort: 55.6% of adults with myelomeningocele and 74.9% with non-myelomeningocele. Bowel continence was significantly associated with employment (p= 0.0002), private insurance (p= 0.0098), non-myelomeningocele type of SB (p= 0.0216) and educational attainment (p= 0.0324) on univariate analysis but only with employment on multivariable logistic regression (p= 0.0027). CONCLUSIONS: Bowel management techniques differed between adults and younger patients with SB. Bowel continence was reported by over half of SB adults and was associated with socio-economic factors.
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    Author List

  • Wiener JS; Suson KD; Castillo J; Routh JC; Tanaka S; Liu T; Ward E; Thibadeau J; Joseph D
  • Start Page

  • 335
  • End Page

  • 343
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 3-4