donate icon DONATE

Shriners Children's provides specialty care for children with idiopathic constipation.

The goal of our colorectal and gastrointestinal care is to provide children who have anal-rectal disorders, advanced care and rehabilitation that frees them from social stigma and allows them to live and play like other children.

What Is Idiopathic Constipation?

Chronic idiopathic constipation refers to constipation for which there is no known underlying cause, and it can range from being somewhat mild to severe. It is one of the most common bowel movement disorders among children.

A multidisciplinary approach is essential, because the causes of chronic constipation in children can be both subtle and complex. We are able to help patients who have been suffering from chronic idiopathic constipation for many years.

What Are the Symptoms in a Child with Idiopathic Constipation?

  • Not having a bowel movement each day
  • Bowel movements are hard
  • May struggle with bowel movements
  • Bowel movements may be painful
  • May soil their underwear

How We Care for Children with Idiopathic Constipation

At Shriners Children's, children with chronic idiopathic constipation receive comprehensive care from a team of physicians that includes gastrointestinal specialists, urologists and colorectal surgeons, as well as nurses, dietitians and others.

Idiopathic constipation can be treated. For many patients, an individualized diet provides significant relief. Sometimes our team also recommends laxatives or enemas. Another option is for patients to participate in a bowel management program. A small percentage of patients with chronic constipation may benefit from surgery.

Children with colon and rectal diseases often suffer from more than physical symptoms. The social stigma these illnesses have can leave children feeling ashamed, depressed and alone. We manage the entire spectrum of your child’s colorectal condition, from the medical to the mental and social. Our team provides complete treatment plans and care for each child’s unique case of colorectal disease.

We provide follow-up care to monitor your child’s health, prevent problems, manage symptoms and give your child the best quality of life.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Understanding your Child's Colorectal & Gastrointestinal (GI) Appointment(s)

On the first visit, parents and children typically come for a group or individual overview and educational presentation about bowel management. Our doctors and nurses explain the medicines, enemas and diets we use as treatment options. Each family has a one-on-one clinic visit with a provider from the program to make a plan for their child.

If referred to one of or locations for a more complex condition or surgery, you and your child go directly to the one-on-one visit with one of our providers to build an individualized plan of care.

Sometimes, when deemed appropriate, your child may have bowel X-ray. This helps us with diagnoses and check whether your child’s plan is progressing as expected. A nurse from our program will talk with you either in person or by phone to discuss your child’s results.

Our goal is for your child to empty their bowel daily with no accidents and to live with as few limitations as possible. Success depends on your child’s condition and following your plan closely.

How We Support Your Child’s Total Health and Well-Being

Families and patients say that Shriners Children’s feels like home to them, and it's no wonder to us. We know that a child's needs go beyond the physical. Our care teams support their social, emotional and developmental health with patient programs and activities.

A few examples include:

Mathew's quality of life today is so much better than it would have been if we never found Shriners.
Tiffany, Sacramento
Patient sitting on father's lap, speaking with physician

Bowel Management Just for Children

Trouble with bowel control (fecal incontinence) can lead to struggles at home, in school, in friendships, with emotions, behavior and mental health. Many children can be more active, social, happy and independent if they have a plan for bowel management that works for them. Our program is designed with YOU in mind.

Innovative Treatments

View All Related Treatments

Alternatives to Rectal Enemas

Our team provides individualized diets, laxatives and psychosocial therapy to provide relief for children with constipation.


Shriners Children's pediatric surgeons perform this surgery to correct anorectal malformations that cause painful bowel movements. It involves the reconstruction of the anus to stretch or enlarge the opening where stool drains.

Colonic Irrigation

This alleviates immobile stool in the colon, preventing bacterial overgrowth and colitis. Our team teaches parents to perform colonic irrigation effectively at home.

Colon Resection

Colon resections, also referred to as sigmoid resections or bowel resections, are performed by our pediatric surgeons. The procedure involves removing part of the bowel to treat and prevent diseases and conditions that affect the colon.

Gastrostomy Tube Placement

A gastrostomy tube (G-tube) is placed in the stomach as a feeding tube for children who cannot get enough nutrition by mouth. Shriners Children’s uses G-tubes for children with esophageal, stomach or intestinal problems.


An ileostomy helps waste and gas exit the body without passing through the colon or rectum. An Ileostomy is typically used when a disease is preventing the colon from working properly or the colon has to be removed.

Ostomy Creation and Closure

Ostomy procedures change the way a child's urine or stool exits their body because of problems with their digestive or urinary system. Ostomies can be temporary or permanent.

Rectal Botox

Rectal Botox injections relax the sphincter muscles slightly, making it easier for a child to pass stool. Shriners Children's considers this method before surgical options.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.