Diagnosing Pediatric Functional Abdominal Pain in Children (4–15 Years Old) According to the Rome III Criteria: Results From a Norwegian Prospective Study

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Abstract

Objectives:

To determine the proportion of referred children with nonorganic abdominal pain who meet the criteria for 1 or more diagnoses of functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID), explore the distribution of diagnoses according to the revised pediatric Rome III criteria (PRC-III), and to investigate reasons for failure to meet these criteria.

Materials and Methods:

We recruited children (4–15 years) consecutively referred by general practitioners to 4 general pediatric outpatient clinics for the evaluation of recurrent abdominal pain. FGID diagnoses were based on the Questionnaire on Pediatric Gastrointestinal Symptoms–Rome III version, completed by parents. To exclude organic disease, all patients underwent medical investigations and were reevaluated at follow-up after 6 to 9 months.

Results:

Of the 152 patients included, 142 (93%) had functional abdominal pain. Of these, 124 (87%) met the criteria for 1 or more diagnoses according to the PRC-III: 66% met the criteria for 1, 29% for 2, and 5% for 3 diagnoses. Irritable bowel syndrome was the most common diagnosis (43%) and overlapped with aerophagia in 16 children (38% of the children with overlapping diagnoses) and with abdominal migraine in 14 (33%). In the 18 patients (13%) not fulfilling the PRC-III for any FGID diagnosis, the main reason was insufficient pain frequency (83%).

Conclusions:

Of the referred children with functional abdominal pain, 87% met the PRC-III for specific diagnoses. This supports the use of these criteria as a diagnostic tool. The significant overlap between different FGIDs, however, makes it unclear whether some of the diagnoses represent distinct disorders or artificial categories.

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