#NASPGHAN19 Postgraduate Course (Part 3)

Here are some selected slides and notes from this year’s NASPGHAN’s postrgraduate course. There may be some errors of omission or transcription.

Link to the full NASPGHAN PG Syllabus 2019 (Borrowed with permission)

Functional/Motility Session

95 Carlo Di Lorenzo, MD, Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Evaluation Testing for functional disorders: The indispensable, the useless, the dangerous and treatment strategies in NERD and functional dyspepsia.

This was the best lecture of the day!!! (Hence a lot of slides follow)

  • Families never complain about doctors missing irritable bowel syndrome and anxiety. They may complain about missing diagnosis which are controversial with regarding to chronic pain (‘chronic appendicitis, gallbladder dyskinesia, ‘mild’ IBD, median arcuate ligament syndrome, and food allergies)
  • Functional disorders, but not organic disorders, can cause ‘constant’ pain. “Tried everything.”  Functional disorder patients frequently have side effects with everything.
  • Listen to patient and sit while listening.
  • Early diagnosis of functional disorder associated with higher long-term resolution
  • Testing –only tests that are cost-effective: celiac disease and stool calprotectin.  “Don’t get KUB for constipation.”
  • Endoscopy does not improve outcomes in children with functional GI disorder (FGID)
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) treatment does not help abdominal pain but can help if patient has dysphagia
  • Abdominal wall pain is often overlooked.  Check Carnett sign.


112 Peter Kahrilas, MD, Northwestern Medicine  Achalasia

  • Achalasia likely develops after an infection in a susceptible host
  • Discussed POEM as newer treatment. It appears to be more effective than either Heller myotomy or pneumatic dilatation in adults.  So far, there is limited experience in pediatrics though it appears to mirror adult experience

124 Julie Khlevner, MD, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital Evaluation and treatment strategies in NERD and functional dyspepsia

  • In patients with NERD, hypermetabolizers of PPIs may need higher dosing.
  • Neuromodulators (not FDA approved) used for PPI-nonresponders.  Cognitive behavioral therapies may be helpful as well.
  • Functional dyspepsia with reflux symptoms are more likely to respond to PPIs than those with dyspepsia symptoms
  • A Japanese herb, rikkunshito, may be helpful for functional dyspepsia

136 Robert J. Shulman, MD, Children’s Nutrition Research Center Role of diet in managing of IBS

Key points:

  • Vast majority of low FODMAPs studies show “too much bias” due to lack of blinding in study designs.
  • Nutritionists are needed to guide diet.  Kids (families) do not follow these diets well.
  • Most who are going to respond to diet will do so within 7-10 days.

Disclaimer: NASPGHAN/gutsandgrowth assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. The discussion, views, and recommendations as to medical procedures, choice of drugs and drug dosages herein are the sole responsibility of the authors. Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the Society cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure. Some of the slides reproduced in this syllabus contain animation in the power point version. This cannot be seen in the printed version.


Gut-Brain Modulators for Functional GI Disorders: Irritable Bowel, Dyspepsia, Functional Heartburn, and Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

A lengthy report (DA Drossman et al. Gastroenterol 2018; 154: 1140-71) thoroughly reviews the evidence for neuromodulators for functional GI disorders, including Irritable Bowel, Dyspepsia, Functional Heartburn, and Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.

“Some general recommendations include: (1) low to modest dosages of tricyclic antidepressants provide the most convincing evidence of benefit for treating chronic gastrointestinal pain and painful FGIDs and serotonin noradrenergic reuptake inhibitors can also be recommended, though further studies are needed; (2) augmentation, that is, adding a second treatment (adding quetiapine, aripiprazole, buspirone α2δ ligand agents) is recommended when a single medication is unsuccessful or produces side effects at higher dosages; (3) treatment should be continued for 6-12 months to potentially prevent relapse; and (4) implementation of successful treatment requires effective communication skills to improve patient acceptance and adherence, and to optimize the patient-provider relationship.”

The report makes specific recommendations for several functional conditions (Table 4).

  • For dyspepsia, the authors recommend categorizing as either postprandial distress syndrome (PDS) and epigastric pain syndrome (EPS) as per Rome IV criteria.
  • They state that “Buspirone…may be used for PDS where early satiety, fullness and nausea predominate.”
  • “Mirtazapine is a good treatment option for PDS when there is chronic nausea and vomiting, or weight loss, and it may also help coexisting abdominal pain.”
  • For EPS, “studies mainly support the use of TCAs, either initially or after an unsuccessful response to a proton pump inhibitor.”

Figure 5 outlines general treatment advice:

  • SSRIs -“when anxiety, depression and phobic features are prominent with FGIDs”
  • TCAs -“first-line treatment when pain is dominant in FGIDs”
  • Tetracyclic antidepressant (mirtazapine, mianserin, trazodone) -“treatment of early satiety, nausea/vomiting, weight loss and disturbed sleep”
  • SNRIs (duloxetiine, venlafaxine, desvenlafaxin, milnacipran) -“treatment when pain is dominant in FGIDs or when side effects from TCAs preclude treatment”
  • Augmentation therapies are subsequently delineated including atyipical antipsychotics, pyschological treatments (like cognitive behavioral therapy) and hypnosis

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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.


NEJM: Functional Dyspepsia

A recent NEJM had a concise review of functional dyspepsia (Talley NJ, Ford AC. NEJM 2015; 373: 1853-63).

With regard to functional dyspepsia in adults, the authors note that using the Rome III criteria, the global prevalence is between 5% and 11%.

While symptoms do not reliably distinguish organic and functional dyspepsia, they note that “with a relatively low rate of identification of organic disease, it is neither desirable nor realistic to perform this test [upper gastrointestinal endoscopy] in all patients with dyspepsia.”

Their review suggests several criteria to consider to help determine who needs endoscopy including age >55 yrs, GI bleeding, dysphagia, persistent vomiting, unintentional weight loss, family history of gastric or esophageal cancer, and iron-deficiency anemia.

With regard to workup, they suggest testing for H pylori non invasively with either breath testing or stool antigen testing.  The review covers treatment approaches including acid suppression (“effect is modest”), antidepressants (“tricyclic antidepressants…should be preferred over selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors”), prokinetic agents, psychological treatments, and complementary approaches.  Figure 3 provides a helpful algorithm.

With regard to prognosis, “approximately 15 to 20% of people with functional dyspepsia have persistent symptoms and 50% have resolution of symptoms; in the remaining 30 to 35% of patients symptoms will fluctuate and meet the criteria for another functional gastrointestinal disorder.”

Briefly noted: “Acute Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders are Associated with Impaired Gastric Accommodation in Patients with Functional Dyspepsia” HG Ly et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2015; 13: 1584-91.

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A 6-Year Study of Amitriptyline, Escitalopram, and Functional Dyspepsia

A recent theme on this blog has been the difficulty of studying inexpensive therapies.  The issue is that there are not strong incentives for pharmaceutical companies to invest in treatment trials when the potential for profits is meager.  Fortunately, there are other funding mechanisms.  A recent study (NJ Talley et al. Gastroenterol 2015; 149:340-9), sponsored by the NIH, still was challenging.  One of the reasons is that when medicines are already approved by the FDA that can be used off-label and this can undermine recruitment.

Due to difficulty with enrollment, the researchers of this current study expanded to a total of 8 sites (initially 5) and settled for 292 patients rather than their goal of 400.  After a baseline washout of 2- to 4-week with assessment, patients with Rome II criteria for functional dyspepsia (FD) were assigned in a randomized, double-blind trial to either placebo, amitriptyline 50 mg, or escitalopram 10 mg for 10 weeks.

Exclusion criteria:

  • History of depression and not using antidepressants.
  • Anxiety
  • Symptom resolution with antisecretory therapy (eg. proton pump inhibitors)
  • History of esophagitis, ulcers, or organic gastrointestinal disease
  • Major physical illness
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Inclusion criteria:

  • Required: previous normal EGD within 5 years
  • 18-75 years

Key terms:

  • “ulcer-like dyspepsia” pain centered in the upper abdomen is the predominant symptom
  • “dysmotility-like dyspepsia” non pain symptom predominates: fullness, bloating, early satiety, and nausea

Key Findings:

  • Adequate relief was noted in 40% of placebo-treated, 53% of amitriptyline-treated, and 38% of escitalopram-treated patients
  • Ulcer-like FD given amitriptyline were >3-fold more likely to report adequate relief compared with placebo for odds ratio of 3.1
  • Delayed gastric emptying was associated with being less likely to report adequate relief with an odds ratio of 0.4
  • Safety: while adverse effects were common, “there was no overall difference between the 3 arms (except in neurologic symptoms, with highest rates in the escitalopram arm) suggesting that…TCAs will be generally well tolerated at low doses.”

The associated editorial (pages 270-2) notes that the overall benefits of amitriptyline were modest.  They also reviewed the NORIG study (JAMA 2013; 310: 2640-9) which examined nortriptyline and placebo for idiopathic gastroparesis (n=130).  Similar to this study from Talley et al, the NORIG study found a lack of response to tricyclic antidepressants in this cohort with delayed gastric emptying and dysmotility; “the lack of efficacy in patients with dyspepsia with delayed gastric emptying suggests the possible utility of scintigrahic testing to select patients” for amitriptyline therapy.

Bottomline: This well-designed study supports the use of amitriptyline, but not escitalopram for the use of FD, mainly in those with pain-predominant symptoms.

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10 Years of Anxiety and Upper Endoscopy Correlation

A recent 10-year Swedish study (Aro P, et al. Gastroenterol 2015; 148: 928-37) provided further evidence of a link between anxiety, but not depression, and functional dyspepsia (FD).

This study took a group of 1000 individuals who had been randomly selected to undergo upper endoscopy, the Abdominal Symptom Questionnaire, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale Questionnaire (1998-2001).  Among the 887, who completed the initial portion of the study, 703 subjects were available for followup study in 2010.

FD was defined in this study based on the Rome III definition: weekly bothersome postprandial fullness or early satiety; epigastric pain or burning without organic findings on endoscopy.  FD was further divided into postprandial distress syndrome which consisted of postprandial fullness or early satiety or epigastric pain syndrome.

Key findings:

  • At baseline, 15.6% of subjects had FD.  At followup, 13.3% had FD including 48 new cases.
  • Anxiety at baseline was associated with new-onset FD at the followup evaluation with an odds ratio of 7.6.
  • Anxiety was also associated with postprandial distress syndrome at baseline with an odds ratio of 4.83.

Take-home point: Anxiety often precedes functional dyspepsia.  This association was not evident with depression.

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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.

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