Functional Dyspepsia and Gastroparesis in Tertiary Care are Interchangeable Syndromes With Common Clinical and Pathologic Features

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases/National Institutes of Health Gastroparesis Clinical Research Consortium

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Background: The aim of this study was to clarify the pathophysiology of functional dyspepsia (FD), a highly prevalent gastrointestinal syndrome, and its relationship with the better-understood syndrome of gastroparesis. Methods: Adult patients with chronic upper gastrointestinal symptoms were followed up prospectively for 48 weeks in multi-center registry studies. Patients were classified as having gastroparesis if gastric emptying was delayed; if not, they were labeled as having FD if they met Rome III criteria. Study analysis was conducted using analysis of covariance and regression models. Results: Of 944 patients enrolled during a 12-year period, 720 (76%) were in the gastroparesis group and 224 (24%) in the FD group. Baseline clinical characteristics and severity of upper gastrointestinal symptoms were highly similar. The 48-week clinical outcome was also similar but at this time 42% of patients with an initial diagnosis of gastroparesis were reclassified as FD based on gastric-emptying results at this time point; conversely, 37% of patients with FD were reclassified as having gastroparesis. Change in either direction was not associated with any difference in symptom severity changes. Full-thickness biopsies of the stomach showed loss of interstitial cells of Cajal and CD206+ macrophages in both groups compared with obese controls. Conclusions: A year after initial classification, patients with FD and gastroparesis, as seen in tertiary referral centers at least, are not distinguishable based on clinical and pathologic features or based on assessment of gastric emptying. Gastric-emptying results are labile and do not reliably capture the pathophysiology of clinical symptoms in either condition. FD and gastroparesis are unified by characteristic pathologic features and should be considered as part of the same spectrum of truly “organic” gastric neuromuscular disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2006-2017
Number of pages12
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic Nausea
  • Enteric Nervous System
  • Functional Dyspepsia
  • Gastric Emptying
  • Gastroparesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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