Title

Using a Decision Tree to Guide Bowel Management in Spina Bifida

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-2019

Department

School of Nursing

Abstract

Background

When born with spina bifida, there are numerous neurologic disorders that accompany this birth defect, including neurogenic bowel. Proactive, systematic, and rational approaches can lead to continence and a more functional lifestyle [1].

Methods

Based on the evidence in the literature and expert experience, our approach to bowel management was developed as a step by step, individualized approach. This was converted to a decision tree for easy guidance of treatment decisions. The approach includes teaching patients and families normal bowel function, changes resulting from neurogenic bowel, common pitfalls in bowel management, and techniques that may improve outcomes. The decision tree, starting with dietary management, breaks into a two-fold attack, oral and rectal. Our data as part of the National Spina Bifida Patient Registry (NSBPR) database was compared to public data from the NSBPR.

Results

Preliminary data from the NSBPR in 2011 reported bowel continence in 42.1% (n = 898) compared to our clinical outcomes of 72.1% (n = 43). As the variable of bowel continence was further defined and more patients were enrolled, the clinic results were comparable to the national reports.

Conclusion

Consistency among providers and caregivers is critical to evaluating the management of continence in spina bifida. While this protocol warrants further evaluation, it is offered as an evidence-based, step by step, approach to bowel management in spina bifida with good outcomes for patient management.

Publication Title

Journal of Pediatric Nursing

DOI

10.1016/j.pedn.2019.04.002

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