Background: Neurogenic bowel dysfunction (NBD) caused by spinal cord injury (SCI) is a major life limiting issue for many patients. However, studies detailing the factors contributing to bowel problems are scarce. The aim of this cross-sectional questionnaire-based study was to evaluate the associations between different aspects of bowel problems and characteristics of SCI, such as time since injury (TSI), level of injury (LOI), and the cause of injury.
Methods: Two questionnaires (the NBD score questionnaire and the Cleveland clinic constipation system score questionnaire) were administered to complete, traumatic patients with SCI that matched the designated criteria. The total scores and the subscales were then regressed to TSI and LOI, and the distribution patterns of NBD score severity according to LOI and cause of injury were shown in a diagram.
Results: Within the subscales of the NBD score, frequency of defecation, digital stimulation or evacuation of the anorectum, and perianal skin problems were all significantly and positively correlated with the TSI, yet the frequency of fecal incontinence was negatively associated with this variable. Moreover, uneasiness, headache, or perspiration during defecation and regular use of drops against constipation were negatively associated with the LOI. In the diagrams, patterns of NBD score severity were similar according to LOI, but visibly differed according to cause. With respect to the CCCS score (Cleveland Clinic Constipation Scoring System), the score itself was shown to be positively associated with TSI. Within the subscales, difficulty, time spent in lavatory, and duration of constipation were positively correlated with TSI. Furthermore, type of assistance was negatively associated with the LOI.
Conclusion: Different characteristics of SCI, TSI, LOI, and cause, each are significantly and distinctly associated with different aspects of the bowel problems that patients with SCI face.