Using an investigation protocol, the aim of this study was to determine the frequency of organic abnormalities in children with recurrent abdominal pain, as new diagnostic approaches may reveal a higher prevalence of organic disease in this group than has been found in most studies. Included in the study were 44 children (mean age 8.3 y; 2-15) with more than three bouts of abdominal pain severe enough to affect the daily activities of the child and lasting more than 3 mo. The investigation covered a detailed medical story, a physical examination, blood, urine and stool samples. The somatic investigation was completed by abdominal X-ray and ultrasound, lactose-breath-hydrogen test and 24-h pH monitoring in the lower oesophagus. A Child Behaviour Checklist was completed to assess psychosocial aspects of the illness. The blood, urine and stool samples were normal, and abdominal ultrasound did not give any results related to the symptoms. Constipation was diagnosed in 7 patients (16%); 9 patients (21%) had gastro-oesophageal reflux and oesophagitis was found in another 3 children. One child had nodular antral gastritis with colonization by Helicobacter pylori, and three children had pathological lactose-breath-hydrogen tests. Twenty-four children (55%) did not have any signs of organic disease. The total score for the CBCL was in the normal range in 89%.
Conclusion: Our observations indicate a higher proportion of organic abnormalities in recurrent abdominal pain than has been found in most previously reported studies, though a multicausal approach seems important.