Objectives: The diagnostic criteria for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have recently been updated from Rome III to Rome IV. Whereas in Rome III a diagnosis of IBS entailed chronic abdominal pain or discomfort at least 3 days per month, in Rome IV the term discomfort has been removed and the frequency of abdominal pain increased to at least 1 day per week. We examined how this change in IBS criteria impacts on clinical characteristics and pathophysiological factors.
Methods: A total of 542 Swedish subjects with Rome III IBS completed a baseline questionnaire enquiring for the number of abdominal pain days in the last 10 days; this was subsequently used as a surrogate marker to identify Rome IV IBS, in that (a) those with 0 or 1 day of pain were classed as Rome IV-negative, and (b) those with ≥2 days of pain were classed as Rome IV-positive. Comparisons were made between Rome IV-positive and -negative IBS groups for demographics, IBS subtype, gastrointestinal and psychological symptoms, somatisation, fatigue, disease-specific quality of life, rectal sensitivity, and oro-anal transit time.
Results: Overall, 85% of Rome III IBS patients fulfilled the Rome IV criteria for IBS, but 15% did not. Rome IV-positive subjects were significantly more likely to be female, have poorer quality of life, greater pain severity, bloating, somatisation, fatigue, and rectal sensitivity than Rome IV-negative subjects. There were no differences in severity of anxiety or depression, IBS subtypes, bowel habit dissatisfaction, or oro-anal transit time. Finally, increasing number of pain days correlated positively with symptoms and visceral hypersensitivity.
Conclusions: Most Rome III-positive IBS patients seeking healthcare fulfil the Rome IV IBS criteria. They constitute a more severe group than those who lose their IBS diagnosis.