Rumination syndrome in children and adolescents: Diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis

Heather J. Chial, Michael Camilleri, Donald E. Williams, Kristi Litzinger, Jean Perrault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Objectives. To characterize the clinical features, results of diagnostic testing, and treatment outcomes for children and adolescents with rumination syndrome. Methods. Review of the medical records for all 147 patients ages 5 to 20 diagnosed with rumination syndrome at our institution between 1975 and 2000. Data are presented as mean ± the standard error of the mean. Results. Sixty-eight percent were female. Age at diagnosis was 15.0 ± 0.3 years. Symptom duration before diagnosis was 2.2 ± 0.3 years, 73% missed school/work, and 46% had been hospitalized because of symptoms. Before diagnosis, 16 (11%) underwent surgery for evaluation or management of symptoms. Twenty-four (16%) had psychiatric disorders; 3.4% had anorexia or bulimia nervosa. All patients described postprandial regurgitation after almost every meal (2.7 ± 0.1 meals per day). Weight loss was described by 42.2% (median: 7 kg). Additional symptoms included: abdominal pain, 38%; constipation, 21%; nausea, 17%; and diarrhea, 8%. Structural studies were normal. Gastric emptying of solids at 4 hours was delayed in 26 of 56 patients. Esophageal pH testing in 24 patients showed reflux/regurgitation in 54%. Gastroduodenal manometry in 65 patients showed characteristic rumination-waves in 40%. Outcome data (at median follow-up 10 months) were available for 54 patients. Symptoms resolved in 16 (30%) and improved in 30 (56%). Conclusions. Recognition of the clinical features of rumination syndrome in children and adolescents is essential; the diagnosis is often delayed and associated with morbidity. Extensive diagnostic testing is unnecessary. Early behavioral therapy is advocated, and patient outcomes are generally favorable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-162
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Motility
  • Pediatric
  • Reflux
  • Regurgitation
  • Rumination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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