Just released in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery, Volume 44, Issue 2 on pages 408- 412 is the result of a study done using interferential therapy ( IFT) for children with slow transit constipation.  The study is titled,

"Decreased colonic transit time after transcutaneous interferential electrical stimulation in children with slow transit constipation"

  We've reprinted the abstract below for your perusal.   Contact the Journal of Pediatric Surgery for the full study.

       Dr. Giovanni De Domenico, adviser to MedFaxx, actually detailed this procedure in his book,
 "New Dimensions in Interferential Therapy.  A Theoretical & Cinical Guide"  in 1985.   Dr. DeDomenico set out the protocol and the theory behind this form of stimulation for abdominal organs using interferential therapy ( IFT).   This is a short description of Dr. De Domenico's findings as they apply to adults.

   " Abdominal organs are controlled by the autonomic nervous system, in particular by the parasympathetic system. This system is largely responsible for regulating the movement and function of the gut and bowel.  If the sympathetic activity to a particular abdominal organ is suppressed, then this would leave the parasympathetic supply to that organ relatively unopposed and in this way, the function of the affected organs might be enhanced.  Inhibition of sympathetic nervous system activity is claimed to ocur at higher frequenceis, providing these fibres are located relatively superficially. " 

   In Dr. DeDomenico's above example higher frequencies refers to 80 - 150 hz ( CPS - cycles per second ).   With the ability to premodulate or mix the electrical current in the interferential unit only two electrodes may be needed however 4 can be used.   The treatment protocol is:

  • high, wide, rhythmical fast sweep in the 80 - 150 hz range
  • intensity is relatively low so only slightly perceived, if at all
  • there is to be no muscle contractions
  • duration ...............
  • total treatments should be ........... the treating frequency above

     The protocol described has been used to successfully treat chronic constipation with the electrode placement on the anterior abdominal wall. 

      Much of the theory of using interferential for pain involves stimulation to suppress the actual pain impulse.  In the above protocol we once again see the efficacious effect of the IFT is suppression of an ongoing signal of the sympathetic system so the effect of the parasympathetic is stronger and the efficacious result of suppression is beneficial treatment of chronic constipation.


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Decreased colonic transit time after transcutaneous interferential electrical stimulation in children with slow transit constipation

Melanie C.C. Clarkeab, Janet W. Chaseb, Susie Gibbc, Val J. Robertsond, Anthony Catto-Smithef, John M. Hutsonabf, Bridget R. SouthwellbCorresponding Author InformationThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Received 3 October 2008; accepted 23 October 2008.



Idiopathic slow transit constipation (STC) describes a clinical syndrome characterised by intractable constipation. It is diagnosed by demonstrating delayed colonic transit on nuclear transit studies (NTS). A possible new treatment is interferential therapy (IFT), which is a form of electrical stimulation that involves the transcutaneous application of electrical current. This study aimed to ascertain the effect of IFT on colonic transit time.


Children with STC diagnosed by NTS were randomised to receive either 12 real or placebo IFT sessions for a 4-week period. After a 2-month break, they all received 12 real IFT sessions—again for a 4-week period. A NTS was repeated 6 to 8 weeks after cessation of each treatment period where able. Geometric centres (GCs) of activity were calculated for all studies at 6, 24, 30, and 48 hours. Pretreatment and posttreatment GCs were compared by statistical parametric analysis (paired t test).


Thirty-one pretreatment, 22 postreal IFT, and 8 postplacebo IFT studies were identified in 26 children (mean age, 12.7 years; 16 male). Colonic transit was significantly faster in children given real treatment when compared to their pretreatment NTS at 24 (mean CG, 2.39 vs 3.04; P ≤ .0001), 30 (mean GC, 2.79 vs 3.47; P = .0039), and 48 (mean GC, 3.34 vs 4.32; P = .0001) hours. By contrast, those children who received placebo IFT had no significant change in colonic transit.


Transcutaneous electrical stimulation with interferential therapy can significantly speed up colonic transit in children with slow transit constipation.

a Department of Surgical Research, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria 3052, Australia

b Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria 3052, Australia

c Department of General Paediatrics, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria 3052, Australia

d School of Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW 2038, Australia

e Department of Gastroenterology, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria 3052, Australia

f Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia

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