Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Tests and procedures used to diagnose chronic constipation include:

  • Examination of the rectum and lower, or sigmoid, colon (sigmoidoscopy). In this procedure, your doctor inserts a lighted, flexible tube into your anus to examine your rectum and the lower portion of your colon.
  • Examination of the rectum and entire colon (colonoscopy). This diagnostic procedure allows your doctor to examine the entire colon with a flexible, camera-equipped tube.
  • Evaluation of anal sphincter muscle function (anorectal manometry). In this procedure, your doctor inserts a narrow, flexible tube into your anus and rectum and then inflates a small balloon at the tip of the tube. The device is then pulled back through the sphincter muscle. This procedure allows your doctor to measure the coordination of the muscles you use to move your bowels.
  • Evaluation of how well food moves through the colon (colonic transit study). In this procedure, you'll swallow a capsule containing markers that show up on X-rays taken over several days. Your doctor will look for signs of intestinal muscle dysfunction and how well food moves through your colon.
  • An X-ray of the rectum during defecation (defecography). During this procedure, your doctor inserts a soft paste made of barium into your rectum. You then pass the barium paste as you would stool. The barium shows up on X-rays and may reveal a prolapse or problems with muscle function and muscle coordination.
Aug. 31, 2013