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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004 Mar 15;19(6):643-54.

Systemic review: the prevalence and clinical course of functional dyspepsia.

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  • 1Sections of Gastroenterology and Health Services Research, Houston Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.



To examine the prevalence of functional dyspepsia in the general population, and to evaluate the natural history/clinical course of patients with functional dyspepsia.


Full-length published manuscripts during 1980-2002 were included if: (i) participants had uninvestigated or functional dyspepsia; (ii) dyspepsia was defined; (iii) for prevalence, population-based samples were evaluated; (iv) for prognosis, the total number of the inception cohort and the total number of individuals available at the end of follow-up were reported.


Twenty-two studies (1976-2002) that examined the prevalence of dyspepsia fulfilled the inclusion and exclusion criteria; 17 studies examined more than 1000 participants, but only two studies provided information sufficient to calculate the prevalence of functional dyspepsia (11.5-14.7%). The prevalence of uninvestigated dyspepsia was in the range 10-40%. When the definition of dyspepsia was restricted to participants with upper abdominal pain, irrespective of the presence of heartburn or acid regurgitation, the prevalence rate estimate was 5-12%. Thirteen studies examined the clinical course of functional dyspepsia (seven retrospective and six prospective). Sample sizes were small (n = 35-209). A follow-up ascertainment of symptoms amongst individuals in the original cohorts was obtained in 92.5-98.2% of prospective studies and in 67.7-82.2% of retrospective studies. The follow-up duration was in the range 1.5-10 years for prospective studies and 5-27 years for retrospective studies; the median follow-up duration for all studies was approximately 5 years. A variable prognosis was reported. An outcome of symptom improvement or becoming asymptomatic was reported in at least one-half of patients in 10 of the 13 studies, and in at least two-thirds of patients in six of the 13 studies. Prognostic factors were inconsistent and, in general, poorly described.


Functional dyspepsia is prevalent world-wide, but the prognosis remains poorly defined. There is a need for population-based studies to examine the prevalence and clinical course of documented functional dyspepsia.

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