This study aims to determine whether the features of dyspepsia can discriminate a subgroup of patients who present with non-ulcer dyspepsia from other diagnostic categories. The following groups were studied: One hundred and thirteen patients with endoscopically confirmed non-ulcer dyspepsia in the absence of clinical, biochemical or radiological evidence of other gastrointestinal diseases or disorders, termed essential dyspepsia; Fifty five patients with symptomatic and endoscopically proven peptic ulceration (32 duodenal ulcers, 23 gastric ulcers); Fifty three patients admitted to hospital with biliary pain and cholelithiasis without other lesion at laparotomy. All patients completed a structured history questionnaire at personal interview. Stepwise logistic regression analysis was done on 19 predefined variables to determine if one or more of these could discriminate between the diagnostic categories. The results suggest that certain groups of symptoms may be of diagnostic value, but many are not. Upper abdominal pain aggravated by food or milk, pain severity, night pain, vomiting, weight loss, and age significantly discriminated essential dyspepsia from the other diagnostic categories. A scoring system was established based on these discriminating symptoms. Using the weighted score, at a sensitivity of 57%, the specificity for a diagnosis of essential dyspepsia was 94%, but only prospective studies will determine if this scoring system is of actual clinical value.
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