To diagnose encopresis, your child's doctor may:

  • Conduct a physical exam and discuss symptoms, bowel movements and eating habits to rule out physical causes for constipation or soiling
  • Do a digital rectal exam to check for impacted stool by inserting a lubricated, gloved finger into your child's rectum while pressing on his or her abdomen with the other hand
  • Recommend an abdominal X-ray to confirm the presence of impacted stool
  • Suggest that a psychological evaluation be done if emotional issues are contributing to your child's symptoms
Oct. 13, 2016
  1. AskMayoExpert. Encopresis. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
  2. Sood MR. Functional fecal incontinence: Definition, clinical manifestations, and evaluation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 8, 2016.
  3. Sood MR. Chronic functional constipation and fecal incontinence in infants and children: Treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 8, 2016.
  4. Turner TL, et al. Toilet training. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 8, 2016.
  5. Tabbers MM, et al. Evaluation and treatment of functional constipation in infants and children: Evidence-based recommendations for ESPGHAN and NASPGHAN. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2014;58:258.
  6. Nurko S, et al. Evaluation and treatment of constipation in children and adolescents. American Family Physician. 2014;90:82.
  7. Encopresis. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Aug. 8, 2016.
  8. Manini ML (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 12, 2016.