Objectives: To determine the proportion of referred children with nonorganic abdominal pain who meet the criteria for 1 or more diagnoses of functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID), explore the distribution of diagnoses according to the revised pediatric Rome III criteria (PRC-III), and to investigate reasons for failure to meet these criteria.
Materials and methods: We recruited children (4-15 years) consecutively referred by general practitioners to 4 general pediatric outpatient clinics for the evaluation of recurrent abdominal pain. FGID diagnoses were based on the Questionnaire on Pediatric Gastrointestinal Symptoms-Rome III version, completed by parents. To exclude organic disease, all patients underwent medical investigations and were reevaluated at follow-up after 6 to 9 months.
Results: Of the 152 patients included, 142 (93%) had functional abdominal pain. Of these, 124 (87%) met the criteria for 1 or more diagnoses according to the PRC-III: 66% met the criteria for 1, 29% for 2, and 5% for 3 diagnoses. Irritable bowel syndrome was the most common diagnosis (43%) and overlapped with aerophagia in 16 children (38% of the children with overlapping diagnoses) and with abdominal migraine in 14 (33%). In the 18 patients (13%) not fulfilling the PRC-III for any FGID diagnosis, the main reason was insufficient pain frequency (83%).
Conclusions: Of the referred children with functional abdominal pain, 87% met the PRC-III for specific diagnoses. This supports the use of these criteria as a diagnostic tool. The significant overlap between different FGIDs, however, makes it unclear whether some of the diagnoses represent distinct disorders or artificial categories.