Background: Gastrointestinal complaints may be the initial symptom in myotonic dystrophy (MD). However, the frequency of gastrointestinal symptoms has never been prospectively evaluated.
Methods: Forty patients with MD were interviewed with regard to their GI symptoms with a standardized questionnaire. A group of healthy subjects matched for age and sex served as controls.
Results: The most prevalent symptoms were abdominal pain (55%), dysphagia (45%), emesis (35%), chronic or episodic diarrhoea (33%), coughing while eating (33%), and anal incontinence (30%). Twenty-five per cent of the patients considered their GI problems to be the most disabling consequence of the disease, and 28% had GI problems that started before the diagnosis of MD.
Conclusions: GI symptoms are common in patients with MD, may be the initial symptoms, and are often considered to be the most disabling consequence of the disease.