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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1999 May;13 Suppl 2:3-14.

Review article: an integrated approach to the irritable bowel syndrome.

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UNC Functional GI Disorders Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 27599-7080, USA.


Our understanding of the pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has evolved from a disorder of motility to a more integrated understanding of enhanced motility and visceral hypersensitivity associated with brain-gut dysfunction. Psychosocial factors contribute to the predisposition, precipitation and perpetuation of IBS symptoms, and affect the clinical outcome. Newer brain imaging techniques (e.g. PET, fMRI) may help us understand the relationship between altered emotional states with pain enhancement and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Diagnosis using symptom-based (e.g. Rome) criteria and a conservative diagnostic approach is recommended. Treatment is based on an effective physician-patient relationship and a combined pharmacological and behavioural approach. Newer medications acting at the 5-HT receptor may help in reducing pain and bowel dysfunction. For more severe pain, antidepressants may be considered.

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