Purpose: Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TES) (3 sessions/wk) over the abdomen stimulated bowel functions in a randomized controlled trial. This pilot study assessed whether daily TES at home with a safe, portable machine would be possible and more efficacious than trial results. Methods: Eleven patients (6 male/5 female; mean age, 14 years; range, 12-18 years) with slow-transit constipation who relapsed or responded poorly in the trial were recruited (11 ± 5 months later). An EPM-IF-4160 (Fuji Dynamics, Hong Kong) portable machine (sine waveform, 4 kHz carrier frequency, 80-160 Hz beat frequency, intensity <33 mA) delivering interferential current (2 electrodes over epigastrium + 2 over kidneys) was applied 1 hour daily at home. Continence diaries were kept for 1 month before and 2 months during treatment. Results: All children completed more than 1 month of treatment after baseline recording. Defecation increased in 9 of 11 children, and soiling decreased in 4 of 11 children. There was a significant increase in total episodes of defecation per week (mean ± SD, 2.5 ± 2.1 vs 6.7 ± 4.4; P = .008) and a nonsignificant decrease in soiling (3.8 ± 1.6 vs 1.1 ± 0.5 episodes/wk, P = .1). Daily stimulation does not affect abdominal pain. No adverse events occurred. Conclusions: Daily TES at home is safe and significantly improved bowel function in children who did not respond to 3 times per week of TES. Home TES may be a novel treatment of intractable slow transit constipation, avoiding hospital visits.
Journal of Pediatric Surgery Vol. 44, Issue 12, p. 2388-2392