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Recurrent Abdominal Pain in Childhood

Emanuel Lebenthal, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1980;134(4):347-348. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1980.04490010005001.
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Recent studies report recurrent abdominal pain in childhood as an indication for upper endoscopy. The use of this procedure or exploratory laparotomy in children with recurrent abdominal pain1,2 has prompted the following reappraisal.

There is a confusion in the diagnosis and management of recurrent abdominal pain. Specifically, there is no clear definition of recurrent abdominal Pain and there is only vague knowledge of its etiology. No diagnostic markers have been elucidated, no proved effective treatment is available, and no prospective studies of outcome have been performed.

No one has clearly defined recurrent abdominal pain. Apley3 emphasized the presence of three discrete episodes of abdominal pain occurring over a minimum of a three-month Period and interfering with the regular activities and school attendance of the child. Not addressed were considerations of the quality of the pain, duration of each episode, alleviating factors, physical condition between episodes, and absence of


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