Costs of Rumination

Reading a recent study (A Alioto et al. J Pediatr 2017; 185: 155-9) reminded me of “My Cousin Vinny.”  In a crucial scene, Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) proves that the accused killers were not the killers by identifying tire tread marks that were inconsistent with the defendants’ car simply by looking a photograph.

Similarly, the authors of this retrospective report highlight the extensive cost of that children undergo for evaluation of rumination when simple observation might suffice.

Key findings:

  • Consecutive patients (n=68, 2009-2015) admitted to their inpatient rumination treatment program had undergone an average of 8.8 tests at a cost of $19,795.
  • Few tests were beneficial. Most common tests were esophagogastroduodenoscopy, upper gastrointestinal series, and abdominal ultrasound scan.


  • The cohort is derived from a quaternary center
  • The number of tests may be underestimated as the tests were done by the referring center; thus, the authors were reliant on data provided to them

Other comments:

  • A good clinical history can suffice to establish the diagnosis. “Observing the patient eat and/or drink and then ruminate is perhaps even more useful.”
  • “We strongly suggest that if a patient meets the symptom-based criteria for rumination syndrome, no further diagnostic testing is warranted. That said, …various phenotypes of the syndrome may make the diagnosis less clear-cut” and some testing could be needed.
  • Rumination may be “symptomatic for over 2 years before the diagnosis is established” (Pediatrics 2003; 111: 158-62)

My take: Not every doctor is as good at doctoring as Vinny Gambini is at lawyering. That being said, the authors note “for patients who present with repeated effortless regurgitation and vomiting of food that begins soon after they eat or drink, is not preceded by retching, and does not occur during sleep, there are very few other diagnoses to be considered.”

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

Omaha Beach 2017

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