Children's Hospital Colorado

Where comprehensive care, personalized attention and world-class experience meet to treat patients with complex colorectal disorders.



Our Bowel Management Program helps improve quality of life for children by teaching techniques to clean out their colon at regular intervals. A number of children suffer from various degrees of constipation or diarrhea with or without bowel control (fecal incontinence).

This can happen for many reasons. Some children have trouble with constipation that lasts for a short time when graduating from formula to solid foods. Other children may have specific medical conditions such as Hirschsprung disease or anorectal malformations that leave them with long-term bowel problems, including diarrhea, constipation and fecal incontinence.

What is bowel management?

Bowel management includes the use of enemas, laxatives, and when indicated, diet manipulation and medicines to slow down the colon. The goal of our bowel management program is for your child to have a daily bowel movement and remain clean between bowel movements.

Children with the following can benefit greatly from bowel management:

  • Children who have had surgery to repair an anorectal malformation (imperforate anus)
  • Children who have had the pull-through procedure for Hirschsprung
  • Children born with myelomeningocele
  • Children that had surgery to remove a large sacrococcygeal teratoma
  • Children who suffer from constipation with no identified cause

What is Bowel Management Week?

Bowel Management Week is an intensive 6-day outpatient bowel management program in which parents and children learn the techniques necessary to help prevent stool accidents. Bowel Management Week is held every month.

What to expect from your child's bowel management training sessions

On the first day of bowel management training

Typically, the first day is the longest day of the week. You can expect to spend about six hours at the hospital on the first day. The remaining visits are much shorter, lasting about one hour.

On the first day:

  • You will attend a brief informational session about bowel management.
  • Your child will have exams that the care team will order.
  • You will consult with a pediatric surgeon, and your child will be given an initial enema or laxative regimen.

The week of bowel management training

Throughout the week of bowel management training, you will be in contact with the nurse coordinator of the program. The nurse practitioner will see you on Monday in clinic to review what happened during the weekend and troubleshoot any problems with techniques that you may be having.

Part of the treatment includes daily abdominal X-rays and daily reports about bowel movements and stool accidents. The pediatric surgeons, nurse practitioners and nurse coordinator will review the X-ray and make any recommended changes to your child's program, if needed. On the final day of the week, your child will have another X-ray and the pediatric surgeon will consult with you one more time.

Why choose the bowel management program at Children's Hospital Colorado?

Our bowel management program has a 95% success rate for children with fecal incontinence who participate in our program. Our multidisciplinary care team includes caregivers from several departments at Children's Colorado, including pediatric surgery, urology, gastrointestinal medicine, psychologist, radiology, gynecology, neurosurgery, nursing, nutrition, child life and social services.

How do I enroll my child in the Bowel Management Program?

The first step is for your child to see a pediatric surgeon in the International Center for Colorectal and Urogenital Care. At this visit, our team will determine if your child is a candidate for Bowel Management Program. If we determine that our Bowel Management Program is the next step for your child, we will contact you to help you prepare for the week.

Contact us

For more information, please call 720-777-6571 or email the care team.