Clinical Features and Associations of Descending Perineum Syndrome in 300 Adults with Constipation in Gastroenterology Referral Practice

Xiao Jing Wang, Victor Chedid, Priya Vijayvargiya, Michael Camilleri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Outlet obstruction constipation accounts for about 30% of chronic constipation (CC) cases in a referral practice. Aims: To assess the proportion of patients with CC diagnosed with descending perineum syndrome (DPS) by a single gastroenterologist and to compare clinical, radiological, and associated features in DPS compared to patients with constipation. Methods: We conducted a review of records of 300 consecutive patients evaluated for constipation by a single gastroenterologist from 2007 to 2019, including medical, surgical, and obstetrics history, digital rectal examination, anorectal manometry, defecation proctography (available in 15/23 with DPS), treatment, and follow-up. DPS was defined as > 3 cm descent of anorectal junction on imaging or estimated perineal descent on rectal examination. Logistic regression with univariate and multivariate analysis compared factors associated with DPS to non-DPS patients. Results: Twenty-three out of 300 (7.7%, all female) patients had DPS; these patients were older, had more births [including more vaginal deliveries (84.2% vs. 31.2% in non-DPS, p < 0.001)], more instrumental or traumatic vaginal deliveries, more hysterectomies, more rectoceles on proctography (86.7% vs. 28.6% non-DPS, p = 0.014), lower squeeze anal sphincter pressures (p < 0.001), and lower rectal sensation (p = 0.075) than non-DPS. On univariate logistic regression, history of vaginal delivery, hysterectomy, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome increased the odds of developing DPS. Vaginal delivery was confirmed as a risk factor on multivariate analysis. Conclusions: DPS accounts for almost 10% of tertiary referral patients presenting with constipation. DPS is associated with age, female gender, and number of vaginal (especially traumatic) deliveries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3688-3695
Number of pages8
JournalDigestive diseases and sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Pelvic floor retraining
  • Rectal examination
  • Vaginal deliveries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Gastroenterology


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