Testing & Diagnosis for Encopresis in Children

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Contact the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

  • 1-617-355-6058
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    Monday-Friday 7:00am-8:00pm
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The first step in treating your child is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis. Because encopresis means that your child has accidental bowel movements, it’s a condition that’s fairly easy to diagnose.

We’ll start with a complete medical history where we’ll ask you whether your child is toilet trained. Then, a physician will give your child a thorough physical exam. Your child’s medical history and the initial exam give the doctor enough information to diagnose encopresis.

Your child may also have an abdominal x-ray to evaluate the amount of stool in the large intestine.

Rarely, your doctor might perform tests to rule out other health problems. These may include:

  • barium enema - a test that checks your child’s intestine for obstruction (blockage), strictures (narrow areas) and other abnormalities. A fluid that shows up well on x-ray called barium is given as an enema, then the intestine is looked at with an x-ray.
  • blood tests - These are used to identify underlying medical conditions such as celiac disease
  • spinal MRI - In some cases, your doctor may recommend a spinal MRI to make sure that a spine condition is not causing the encopresis. After we complete all necessary tests, our experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned about your child's condition. Then we’ll meet with you and your family to discuss the results and outline the best treatment options.

After we complete all necessary tests, our experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned about your child's condition. Then we’ll meet with you and your family to discuss the results and outline the best treatment options.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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