The spectrum of functional gastrointestinal disorders in a tertiary referral clinic in Ireland

K. Walsh, S. R. McWilliams, M. M. Maher, E. M. Quigley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background The functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) are a heterogenous group of chronic conditions which cause troubling gastrointestinal symptoms. Though common and sometimes disabling, causing considerable social and economic burden, there is little recent literature on presentation or impact of FGIDs in Ireland. Aim To describe the characteristics of patients with FGIDs at a tertiary referral clinic in Ireland. Methods A retrospective review of those attending a university hospital gastroenterology clinic with a special interest in FGIDs between January 1999 and July 2008 was performed. Data were mined from electronic outpatient records and clinic letters. Results A total of 1,909 patients were included. Of these patients, 41.2% (787 of 1,909) received a diagnosis of FGID. FGID patients were predominantly (70.14%) female and the average age at first presentation was 38.3 years. Of these, 76% (598 of 787) were referred from general practice; 35.8% (282 of 787) received onward referrals to other specialties. Nine hundred FGIDs were diagnosed. The most common FGID was irritable bowel syndrome (633 of 900, 70.3%). In the FGID group, 13.1% of patients (103 of 787) had more than one FGID diagnosis. Females received a definitive diagnosis of FGID faster than males; mean diagnostic latency: 5.3 versus 6.4 months (p < 0.05). Sixty-six percent (523 of 787) of FGID patients had nongastrointestinal co-morbidities, with 315 (60.2%) of these having more than one co-morbidity. The burden of non-GI co-morbidity was significantly higher in patients with overlapping functional syndromes than in patients with single FGID (p < 0.05). Conclusions In Ireland, FGIDs are common, represent a significant burden for the health-care system and deserve greater recognition and further research attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-86
Number of pages6
JournalIrish Journal of Medical Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Functional constipation
  • Functional gastrointestinal disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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