Visceral hyperalgesia in children with functional abdominal pain

J Pediatr. 2001 Dec;139(6):838-43. doi: 10.1067/mpd.2001.118883.


Objective: Our purpose was to evaluate visceral sensitivity and psychologic profiles in children with functional gastrointestinal disorders.

Study design: We measured visceral perception in the stomach and in the rectum by using an electronic barostat. Psychologic questionnaires were completed. Ten children with recurrent abdominal pain (RAP)(8 female, mean age 11.3 +/- 0.8 years), 10 children with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (8 female, mean age 13.0 +/- 0.9 years), and 15 control children (8 female, mean age 12.7 +/- 1.2 years) completed the study.

Results: Thresholds for visceral perception in the rectum were decreased in patients with IBS (P <.001 vs control patients) and in patients with RAP (P <.05 vs control patients). Children with IBS had lower thresholds than children with RAP (P <.01). In contrast, thresholds for perception were decreased in the stomach of children with RAP (P <.005 vs control patients) but not in children with IBS. There were elevated anxiety scores in 45% of patients. Duration of symptoms was associated with higher scores of anxiety (P <.001) and depression (P <.02).

Conclusions: Hyperalgesia was demonstrated in children with RAP and IBS; sites of hyperalgesia appear to be associated with different symptom phenotypes; anxiety was common, and there was an association between the duration of symptoms and increased scores for both anxiety and depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / complications
  • Abdominal Pain / physiopathology*
  • Abdominal Pain / psychology*
  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety Disorders / complications
  • Anxiety Disorders / physiopathology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Child
  • Colonic Diseases, Functional / complications
  • Colonic Diseases, Functional / physiopathology*
  • Colonic Diseases, Functional / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / complications
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperalgesia / complications
  • Hyperalgesia / physiopathology*
  • Hyperalgesia / psychology*
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold / physiology
  • Pain Threshold / psychology
  • Rectum / physiopathology
  • Recurrence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stomach / physiopathology
  • Touch / physiology
  • Viscera / physiopathology*