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Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2000 May;39(5):267-74.

Recurrent abdominal pain in children--a retrospective study of outcome in a group referred to a pediatric gastroenterology practice.

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Department of Pediatrics, Indiana University School of Medicine, James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children, Indianapolis 46202-5225, USA.


Recurrent abdominal pain (RAP) affects a significant number of children each year. We reviewed our experience over a 2-year period to determine the outcome of patients who were referred for pediatric gastroenterology consultation. We identified 356 patients, 149 (42%) male and 207 (58%) female. All patients underwent a thorough interview and complete physical examination. Patients suspected of having irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were treated as such without further initial evaluation. Others underwent an initial blood and urine evaluation. When these initial screening studies were negative, additional studies were performed including abdominal ultrasonography, radiography, and/or endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract if the history suggested a possible diagnosis that could be excluded or confirmed by such tests. There was no identifiable diagnosis in 43.5% of the patients studied. IBS was diagnosed in 25.8% of all patients. Constipation was diagnosed in 3.7%. Miscellaneous causes, including GI mucosal lesions, and renal and pancreatic disorders were found in an additional 27% of patients. In a follow-up survey, more than 70% of the treated respondents were improved (i.e., their RAP had resolved or was markedly improved). We conclude that most children with RAP have a functional disorder. Patients with an organic cause for pain can be identified and treated in a cost-effective manner with carefully planned evaluation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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