Pediatric Annals

CME Article 

Functional Abdominal Pain: All Roads Lead to Rome (Criteria)

Desale Yacob, MD; Carlo Di Lorenzo, MD

Abstract

Functional abdominal pain is a functional gastrointestinal disorder (FGID). In the past, the term “recurrent abdominal pain” was used to describe children with functional abdominal pain. However, this term should not be used as a diagnosis any more than “recurrent diarrhea” or “recurrent constipation” should be used as diagnoses for individuals who stool either too often or not frequently enough. Recurrent abdominal pain may be caused by many disparate conditions, including but not limited to inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcer, pancreatitis or, more often, functional abdominal pain. Functional disorders are conditions that describe clusters of symptoms related to disordered function at the level of either the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or in the central processing of information originating from the GI tract. We need to acknowledge that calling such conditions “functional” constitutes a problem because most people do not understand what “functional” means. Some FGIDs were previously called idiopathic, chronic, simple, nonulcer, and other poorly descriptive terms that were equally difficult to interpret for patients, families, and physicians.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Desale Yacob, MD; and Carlo Di Lorenzo, MD, are with Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio.

Address correspondence to: Carlo Di Lorenzo, MD, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, 700 Children’s Drive, Columbus, OH 43205; fax: 614-722-3454; e-mail carlo.dilorenzo@nationwidechildrens.org

Dr. Yacob and Dr. Di Lorenzo have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Abstract

Functional abdominal pain is a functional gastrointestinal disorder (FGID). In the past, the term “recurrent abdominal pain” was used to describe children with functional abdominal pain. However, this term should not be used as a diagnosis any more than “recurrent diarrhea” or “recurrent constipation” should be used as diagnoses for individuals who stool either too often or not frequently enough. Recurrent abdominal pain may be caused by many disparate conditions, including but not limited to inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcer, pancreatitis or, more often, functional abdominal pain. Functional disorders are conditions that describe clusters of symptoms related to disordered function at the level of either the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or in the central processing of information originating from the GI tract. We need to acknowledge that calling such conditions “functional” constitutes a problem because most people do not understand what “functional” means. Some FGIDs were previously called idiopathic, chronic, simple, nonulcer, and other poorly descriptive terms that were equally difficult to interpret for patients, families, and physicians.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Desale Yacob, MD; and Carlo Di Lorenzo, MD, are with Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio.

Address correspondence to: Carlo Di Lorenzo, MD, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, 700 Children’s Drive, Columbus, OH 43205; fax: 614-722-3454; e-mail carlo.dilorenzo@nationwidechildrens.org

Dr. Yacob and Dr. Di Lorenzo have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Functional abdominal pain is a functional gastrointestinal disorder (FGID). In the past, the term “recurrent abdominal pain” was used to describe children with functional abdominal pain. However, this term should not be used as a diagnosis any more than “recurrent diarrhea” or “recurrent constipation” should be used as diagnoses for individuals who stool either too often or not frequently enough. Recurrent abdominal pain may be caused by many disparate conditions, including but not limited to inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcer, pancreatitis or, more often, functional abdominal pain. Functional disorders are conditions that describe clusters of symptoms related to disordered function at the level of either the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or in the central processing of information originating from the GI tract. We need to acknowledge that calling such conditions “functional” constitutes a problem because most people do not understand what “functional” means. Some FGIDs were previously called idiopathic, chronic, simple, nonulcer, and other poorly descriptive terms that were equally difficult to interpret for patients, families, and physicians.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Desale Yacob, MD; and Carlo Di Lorenzo, MD, are with Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio.

Address correspondence to: Carlo Di Lorenzo, MD, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, 700 Children’s Drive, Columbus, OH 43205; fax: 614-722-3454; e-mail carlo.dilorenzo@nationwidechildrens.org

Dr. Yacob and Dr. Di Lorenzo have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

10.3928/00904481-20090501-05

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