Failed therapy and directions for the future in dyspepsia.

Research paper by Gerald G Holtmann, Judith J Gapasin

Indexed on: 09 May '08Published on: 09 May '08Published in: Digestive diseases (Basel, Switzerland)


Functional gastrointestinal disorders including functional dyspepsia are highly prevalent. Their clinical course is benign without disease-associated mortality. On the other hand, the impact can be substantial for the affected patients with regard to the decrease of quality of life, and for society with regard to the economical implications. Functional dyspepsia is a clinical syndrome with various underlying pathophysiologies. Thus, it is understandable that there is no single cure available. Reassurance by ruling out relevant differential diagnoses, explanation, and general advice with regard to the underlying causes and dietary and life-style measures are important components of the management of these patients. Well established medical treatments include Helicobacter pylori eradication, acid inhibitory agents and prokinetics. The overall gain over placebo ranges from less than 5% for H. pylori eradication to 15% for antisecretory agents and prokinetics. Thus, even considering a substantial proportion of patients with spontaneous remissions (usually addressed as placebo response in clinical trials), there are 20 to 40% of patients who do not respond properly to these measures. In these patients, other treatment modalities need to be considered. These second- or third-line measures include herbal medicines and psychotropic agents. Some of the herbal preparations have been well studied in controlled clinical trials with sufficient scientific evidence to assume efficacy. Psychotropic drugs on the other hand have, as yet, not been specifically tested in functional dyspepsia. Medications such as clonidine, buspirone or octreotide can be helpful in few selected patients. However, a very careful assessment of potential risks and benefits needs to be undertaken on a case-by-case basis. Other evidence-based measures include psychological interventions such as psychotherapy and hypnotherapy.