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Children's Hospital Offers Advanced Testing for Constipation

Posted: 7/10/2018

Pediatric gastroenterologists Dr. Alan Sacks and Dr. Robert Dillard

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Children suffering from constipation or who have issues soiling themselves now have access to the latest testing to help diagnose and treat their issues, thanks to the purchase of new anorectal manometry, or ARM, equipment at The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart.

Used by the pediatric gastroenterologists at The Children’s Hospital, ARM studies the nerves and muscles of the anus and rectum, testing whether children have normal sensation and are using their muscles correctly to hold and pass stool.

This test is done in children with difficult to treat constipation, abnormalities of the anus (anal malformations) and fecal incontinence (children who are past the age of toilet training and unable to stop stool from leaking).

During an ARM, a pediatric gastroenterologist places a small, soft, flexible tube into the rectum. The tube is attached to a balloon on one end and a computer on the other end. The pediatric gastroenterologist slowly inflates and deflates the balloon. At the same time, the computer records the activity of the nerves and muscles inside the rectum. The doctor may ask the child to squeeze down on the tube, to try pushing the tube out of the rectum or to describe the feeling of the balloon inflating.

If a child is too young to hold still, the specially trained pediatric specialists at The Children’s Hospital may give the child medicine to help him or her sleep. This test is not uncomfortable for the child, but a lubricating gel is applied to the child’s anus prior to ARM to ease the process.

ARM is an outpatient test. Children may go home the same day and are able to resume their normal activities. The test may also be used for patients admitted to The Children’s Hospital and can be performed before or after a child’s surgery to check that the rectal muscles and nerves are working properly.

Pediatric gastroenterologists Dr. Alan Sacks and Dr. Robert Dillard are on the faculty of the University of Florida College of Medicine, part of UF Health. The college is affiliated with The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart. Dr. Sacks and Dr. Dillard practice full-time at The Children’s Hospital and in their outpatient office, which is located on Sacred Heart’s Pensacola campus at 1657 Trinity Drive. For more information, please call pediatric gastroenterology at 850-416-1157.

The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart is a 117-bed facility that serves as the only children’s hospital in Northwest Florida. The Children’s Hospital offers a wide range of services to meet all of a child’s medical needs, from a pediatric emergency room and neonatal intensive care unit to a medical staff of more than 120 board-certified physicians across 30 pediatric specialties. The Children’s Hospital provides quality, compassionate care to children, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay. Sacred Heart Health System is a member of Ascension, the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system. For more information about the services available at The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart, visit

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