Functional GI and Motility Disorders
Pediatric functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders refer to a wide variety of digestive disorders occurring in children from birth to 18 years old. A functional disorder refers to a disorder or disease where the primary abnormality is an alteration in the way the body works (altered physiological function), rather than an identifiable structural or biochemical cause.
A functional GI disorder generally can not be diagnosed in a traditional way; that is, as an inflammatory, infectious, or structural abnormality that can be seen by commonly used examination, x-ray, or blood test. Functional disorders are characterized by symptoms.
Childhood functional GI disorders include a variety of often age-dependent, long-term (chronic) or recurrent symptoms. The disorders may be characterized by symptoms such as:
- problems in the passage of food or feces
- any combination of these symptoms
Gastrointestinal motility is defined by the movements of the digestive system, and the transit of the contents within it. When nerves or muscles in any portion of the digestive tract do not function in a strong coordinated fashion, a person develops symptoms related to motility problems. These symptoms may include:
- difficulty swallowing
- abdominal distention and pain
- a combination of these symptoms
GI motility can be measured and abnormal patterns identified using tests. For each area of the GI tract, there are different GI motility tests that assess different functions and provide different types of information to help with diagnosis and treatment.
Examples of functional GI and/or motility disorders include:
- Chronic abdominal pain
- Cyclic vomiting syndrome
- Encopresis (fecal soiling)
- Functional fecal retention
- Gastroesophageal reflux (GER)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Hirschsprung’s disease
- Intestinal pseudo-obstruction
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)