Clinical and laboratory findings in 220 children with recurrent abdominal pain
Aim: To investigate the clinical and laboratory findings in children with recurrent abdominal pain (RAP). Methods: Consecutive patients with RAP (Apley criteria), age 4-16 years, referred to a secondary medical centre were evaluated by a standardized history, physical examination and laboratory tests. The tests encompassed Helicobacter pylori (Hp), gastrointestinal bacterial infections, protozoa, coeliac disease, carbohydrate malabsorption, food intolerance, abdominal ultrasound and plain abdominal X-ray. More investigations were obtained if indicated. Patient characteristics were compared with surgical patients without abdominal pain (control group). Results: A total of 220 consecutive patients were included (92 M, mean age 8.8 years [4.1-16.0 years]). In 88% of the patients, abnormalities were found that refer to possible causes. Especially, protozoa were present in 33% of the patients, mostly Dientamoeba fragilis, Yersinia enterocolitica in 12% and endoscopically proven infection with Hp in 11%. In 36%, a plain abdominal X-ray raised suspicion of constipation. Conclusion: In 220 consecutive patients with RAP, referred to secondary care, a standardized work-up yielded abnormal results in a high percentage. The clinical significance of these findings remains to be established.