Fasting and fed gastric electrical activity was recorded by cutaneous electrodes (electrogastrography) in 14 children with unexplained recurrent symptoms of upper intestinal dysfunction, and in 10 controls. The unexplained symptoms included vomiting, epigastric pain, fullness, and early satiety. Mean (SD) age was 7.0 (3) and 7.5 (2) years, respectively. Gastric emptying time of a solid-liquid meal was also measured by real time ultrasonography in all subjects (patients and controls). In all patients radiography and endoscopy excluded structural and focal abnormalities of the gastrointestinal tract. Gastric emptying time was significantly more prolonged in patients than in controls. It was also found that there were appreciable irregularities of gastric electrical rhythm (tachygastria, bradygastria, flat line pattern, and mixed arrhythmia) in 12 fasting and 10 fed patients, whereas controls showed short and rare episodes of arrhythmia during both fasting and fed recording periods. The percentage distribution of the total electrogastrographic energy power across three frequency bands of electrical activity (low, normal, and high) showed that patients were different from controls both for reduced activity of normal frequency and for increased incidence of high and low abnormal frequencies. It is concluded that gastric electrical abnormalities are found in a high proportion of children with recurrent unexplained upper gastrointestinal symptoms. Electrogastrography can be a valuable tool in the assessment of these patients.
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