Diagnostic Exams at the Colorectal Specialty Program

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital diagnoses and treats the full spectrum of colorectal disorders, from the most common to the most complex. We employ a wide variety of diagnostic tools to help our medical teams determine (and rule out) possible treatments options for your child. A member of our care team will thoroughly review each test prescribed and what you and your child can expect in terms of the amount of time each test will take, level of discomfort to expect (if any), how pain will be controlled and recovery time, as needed.

  • Defecography is an x-ray test to evaluate the function and coordination of the rectum and pelvic floor muscles.   A soft plastic tip is inserted through the anal canal into the rectum. The rectum and anal canal are filled with barium paste by a soft plastic tipped tube that is inserted into the anal canal. The child drinks barium about one hour before the test so the small intestine shows up, and everything in the pelvis can be seen when the child strains.  The child sits on a toilet-like seat, called a defecography chair, which is attached to an X-ray table. The child is asked to squeeze, to push and to empty the rectum. The X-ray of these maneuvers shows the rectum as it empties.
  • Anorectal manometry is used to test for the normal relaxation of the muscles which help to control bowel movements.  The doctor places a small, soft, flexible tube into the rectum. A tiny balloon is attached to the end of the tube. This balloon is filled with small amounts of air to measure how your child's muscles and nerves work inside the rectum.
  • MRI assessment of anal sphincter integrity - MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a non-radioactive imaging technique used to examine the anatomy of your child’s pelvis.  MRI uses a magnet and radiowaves to create detailed cross-sectional images. For this exam, the child lies very still on a table. The table is rolled into the opening of a tunnel-shaped magnet to produce images.  For younger children, we may need to use sedation or anesthesia to allow for the patient to lie still. 
  • Colonoscopy - A colonoscopy is a test that to evaluate the inside of the lower part of the rectum, colon and lower end of the small intestine. The colonoscope is inserted through the anus and into the large intestine.  The video chip at the end of the colonoscope works as a camera to send pictures through a thin, ­bendable tube called an ­endoscope. The pictures sent by the video chip show information about your child’s colon and intestinal tract that cannot be determined from a physical examination or other kinds of tests. Most colonoscopies are done while your child is under general anesthesia, so your child will not feel any pain or have any memory of the test
  • Distal Colostogram - For all children with an imperforate anus who have undergone a colostomy, a detailed assessment of the end of their colon needs to be obtained prior to their definitive surgery.  A distal colostogram provides important information regarding the location of the bottom of the colon (distal end) as well as how it may connect with the urinary system or genitalia.  The exam is performed as a fluoroscopy procedure in our radiology clinic, and consists of injecting a contrast liquid through the distal stoma (ostomy) while the stoma is inflated using a catheter. 
  • 3-D imaging of anorectal malformations - In certain cases, 3D images are necessary to help surgeons plan treatment for anorectal malformations.  In this case, your doctor may request a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce 3-dimensional cross-sectional images.  These images of the body are produced both horizontally and vertically.  While often done using X-rays, our center has developed a new approach for 3-dimensional imaging using MRI technology.  The quality of these images has greatly enhanced our care of children with these highly complex colorectal problems. Discover the Michigan Difference in pediatric colorectal surgical care.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 1-877-475-MOTT (1-877-475-6688).