Functional Chest Pain: Esophageal or Overlapping Functional Disorder

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BackgroundWhether patients with functional chest pain have an esophageal or overlapping functional disorder of the gut is unclear. We investigated the prevalence of functional gastrointestinal disorders in patients with functional chest pain.MethodsOne hundred patients with functional chest pain and normal cardiac, endoscopic, and manometric studies were evaluated for esophageal hypersensitivity with a balloon distension test. Subsequently, a modified Rome II functional bowel disorder questionnaire was mailed to these subjects. Prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other functional disorder were determined using the Rome II criteria. In addition, we assessed the prevalence of chest pain in 81 patients with functional constipation.ResultsThere were 69 responders (54 women); 2 were excluded. Fifty-five patients (82%) fulfilled criteria for other functional disorders besides chest pain. Although there was an overlap, IBS (27%) and abdominal bloating (22%) were most common; dyspepsia (7%), dysphagia (7%), nonspecific bowel disorder (7%), constipation (4%), abdominal pain (3%), and diarrhea (1%) were less common. Among responders, 52 (78%) had esophageal hypersensitivity and 15 (22%) had normosensitivity, with similar prevalence of functional disorders. Thirty-two (39%) of the subjects with functional constipation reported chest pain occasionally, and 5 (6%) frequently.ConclusionsApproximately 80% of patients with functional chest pain exhibit features of other functional disorders including IBS suggesting an overlap. This association is independent of esophageal hypersensitivity. Recognition of this overlap may facilitate better management of these patients.

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