PURPOSE: We assessed short- and mid-long-term clinical efficacy of transanal irrigation (TAI) and its effect on the quality of life of children with spina bifida (SB) and anorectal malformations (ARM).
METHODS: Seventy-four pediatric patients (age 6-17 years) with SB and ARM with neurogenic bowel dysfunction were enrolled for a prospective and multicentric study. Patients were evaluated before the beginning of TAI (T0), after 3 months (T1) and after at least 2 years (range 24-32 months) (T2) using a questionnaire assessing bowel function, the Bristol scale, and two validated questionnaires on quality of life: the CHQ-PF50 questionnaire for the parents of patients aged 6-11 years and the SF36 questionnaires for patients aged between 12 and 18 years.
RESULTS: Seventy-two patients completed TAI program in T1, and 67 continued into T2. Bowel outcomes (constipation and fecal incontinence) improved in both the SB and the ARM groups in the short and mid-long term. In both groups at T1 and T2, parents and children reported an improvement in quality of life and there was a significant increase of stool form types 4 and 5 as described by the Bristol scale. Common adverse effects during the study were similar at T1 and T2 without serious complications.
CONCLUSIONS: We observed a sustained improvement in bowel management and quality of life in SB and ARM children during the study, more significant in the short term than in mid-long term. To maintain success rates in the mid-long term and to reduce the dropout rate, we propose patient training and careful follow-ups.