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Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2018 Jun;30(6):e13290. doi: 10.1111/nmo.13290. Epub 2018 Jan 18.

Are characteristics of abdominal pain helpful to identify patients with visceral hypersensitivity in irritable bowel syndrome? Results of a prospective study.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Rouen University Hospital, Rouen, France.
INSERM UMR 1073, Institute for Research and Innovation in Biomedicine, Normandy University, Rouen, France.
Department of Physiology, Rouen University Hospital, Rouen, France.



Some consider that patients with visceral hypersensitivity may represent a separate entity within the IBS population not only from a pathophysiological but also from a clinical perspective. The aim of this prospective exploratory study was to assess whether characteristics of abdominal pain in IBS patients could be suggestive of hypersensitivity.


This prospective study included consecutive IBS patients selected by Rome III criteria. Validated scores (IBS-SSS, Bristol stool scale, HADS) were used to phenotype patients who were also asked to describe the main location of their abdominal pain on a simple image (abdomen divided into 6 zones). Progressive isobaric rectal distensions were performed to demonstrate, with the ascending method of limits, allodynia (pain threshold lower than 24 mmHg).


Fifty patients (women: 72%), 42.6 ± 15.7 years old, were included. Sub-types were IBS-D, IBS-C and IBS-M in 58%, 22% and 20% of cases, respectively. Allodynia was present in 18% of cases. Neither IBS-SSS nor intensity of pain was predictive of hypersensitivity. In hypersensitive patients, pain was more often located in one of the two iliac fossa (P = 0.02) and located outside these areas in only 11% of cases. The sensitivity and the specificity of this pain location to differentiate hyper from normosensitive patients were 0.89 and 0.59, respectively.


The location of pain is different between hyper and normosensitive IBS patients. Pain located outside one of the two iliac fossa suggests that the patient is normosensitive.


abdominal pain; clinical practice; irritable bowel syndrome; pathophysiology; visceral hypersensitivity

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