Definition, Pathogenesis, and Management of That Cursed Dyspepsia
Dyspepsia is an umbrella term used to encompass a number of symptoms thought to originate from the upper gastrointestinal tract. These symptoms are relatively nonspecific; not surprisingly, therefore, a myriad of conditions may present with any one or a combination of these symptoms. Therein lays the clinician's first challenge: detecting the minority who may have a potentially life-threatening disorder, such as gastric cancer, from a population whose symptoms are, for the most part, considered functional in origin. The second challenge lies in the definition and management of those individuals with functional dyspepsia (FD); the major focus of this review. The Rome process has addressed the issue of FD definition and a look back at the evolution of Rome criteria for this disorder illustrates the complexities that have so frustrated us. There has been no shortage of hypotheses to explain symptom pathogenesis in FD; initially focused on gastric sensorimotor dysfunction, these have now strayed well into the duodenum and have come to entertain such factors as immune responses and the microbiome. FD has proven to be an equally challenging area for therapeutics; while the staple approaches of acid suppression and eradication of Helicobacter pylori have some limited efficacy in select populations, strategies to ameliorate symptoms in the majority of sufferers based on presumed pathophysiology have largely foundered. Lacking a validated biomarker(s) FD continues to be an elusive target and is likely to remain so until we can better define the various phenotypes that it must surely contain.