The Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

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Functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGDs) are disorders of the digestive system in which symptoms cannot be explained by the presence of structural or tissue abnormality. FGDs lack identifiable biomarkers, and therefore, like all functional disorders, FGDs are diagnosed based on their symptom picture.

Rome Criteria

In the past, FGDs were considered to be diagnoses of exclusion - meaning that they could only be diagnosed after organic (identifiable) disease was ruled out.

However back in 1988, a group of researchers and physicians met to devise strict criteria for the diagnosis of the various FGDs. These criteria are now known as the "Rome Criteria." Currently, these criteria are in their third revision, with a fourth revision scheduled for sometime in 2016. To learn more about the Rome criteria, click below:

Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

Here is a comprehensive list of FGDs as delineated by the Rome III criteria:

Functional Esophageal Disorders

Functional Gastroduodenal Disorders

  • Functional dyspepsia (includes postprandial distress syndrome and epigastric pain syndrome
  • Aerophagia
  • Unspecified excessive belching
  • Chronic idiopathic nausea
  • Functional vomiting
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  • Rumination syndrome in adults

Functional Bowel Disorders

Functional Abdominal Pain Syndrome

Functional Gallbladder and Sphincter of Oddi Disorders

  • Functional pancreatic Sphincter of Oddi disorder

Functional Anorectal Disorders

Childhood Functional GI Disorders: Infant/Toddler

  • Infant regurgitation
  • Infant rumination syndrome
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  • Infant colic
  • Functional diarrhea
  • Infant dyschezia
  • Functional constipation

Childhood Functional GI Disorders: Child/Adolescent

  • Vomiting and Aerophagia: adolescent rumination syndrome, cyclic vomiting syndrome, and aerophagia
  • Abdominal Pain-Related Functional GI Disorders:  functional dyspepsia, IBS, abdominal migraine, childhood functional abdominal pain, and childhood functional abdominal pain syndrome
  • Constipation and Incontinence: functional constipation and nonretentive fecal incontinence

Diagnosis of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

Although the Rome criteria allow the diagnosis of FGDs to be symptom-based, your doctor may still want to run some standard diagnostic tests to rule out other diseases or to look for structural problems that are resulting in your symptoms.


Treatment of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

Although no visible signs of disease or structural problems are identified as causing the symptoms of FGDs, this does not mean that these disorders are not real, nor does it mean that they are not treatable. If you suspect you have, or have been diagnosed with, an FGD, it will be very essential to work with your doctor on a working treatment plan. Treatment options may include:

  • Medication
  • Dietary changes
  • Biofeedback
  • Physical therapy
  • Stress management
  • Psychotherapy


Drossman, D. "The Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders and the Rome III Process" Gastroenterology 2006 130:1377-1390.

"Rome III Diagnostic Criteria For Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders"

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