Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your child's doctor will:

  • Gather a complete medical history. Your child's doctor will ask you about your child's past illnesses. He or she will also likely ask you about your child's diet and physical activity patterns.
  • Conduct a physical exam. Your child's physical exam will likely include placing a gloved finger into your child's anus to check for abnormalities or the presence of impacted stool. Stool found in the rectum may be tested for blood.

More extensive testing is usually reserved for only the most severe cases of constipation. If necessary, these tests may include:

  • Abdominal X-ray. This standard X-ray test allows your child's doctor to see if there are any blockages in your child's abdomen.
  • Anorectal manometry or motility test. In this test, a thin tube called a catheter is placed in the rectum to measure the coordination of the muscles your child uses to pass stool.
  • Barium enema X-ray. In this test, the lining of the bowel is coated with a contrast dye (barium) so that the rectum, colon and sometimes part of the small intestine can be clearly seen on an X-ray.
  • Rectal biopsy. In this test, a small sample of tissue is taken from the lining of the rectum to see if nerve cells are normal.
  • Transit study or marker study. In this test, your child will swallow a capsule containing markers that show up on X-rays taken over several days. Your child's doctor will analyze the way the markers move through your child's digestive tract.
  • Blood tests. Occasionally, blood tests are performed, such as a thyroid panel.
Aug. 23, 2013