Background & aims: Hypersensitivity to gastric distention has been reported in functional dyspepsia, but its characteristics and relevance to symptoms remain unclear. The aim of this study was to define hypersensitivity to gastric distention and its association to specific symptoms in functional dyspepsia.
Methods: We used a gastric barostat to study sensitivity to gastric distention in 80 healthy subjects and in 160 functional dyspepsia patients. Demographic characteristics, gastric emptying, Helicobacter pylori status, gastric accommodation, and a dyspepsia symptom score were obtained from all patients and the relationship with visceral sensitivity was assessed using univariate and multivariate analysis.
Results: The increase of intra-balloon pressure over intra-abdominal pressure needed to induce discomfort or pain is the most appropriate expression of sensitivity to gastric distention because it yields a meaningful lower range of normal and it is independent from age and body mass index. Hypersensitivity to gastric distention was found in 34% of the patients, who did not differ from the other patients in demographic and other pathophysiological characteristics. Hypersensitivity to distention was associated with a higher prevalence of postprandial pain, belching, and weight loss.
Conclusions: Hypersensitivity to gastric distention is present in a subset of functional dyspepsia patients. It is associated with symptoms of postprandial epigastric pain, belching, and weight loss.