New Diagnostic Algorithms will Improve Diagnosis of GI Problems

Using an evidence-based practice approach, researchers have developed new diagnostic algorithms that will provide diagnostic pathways for common symptoms like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and constipation.

The newly developed Diagnostic Algorithms for Common Gastrointestinal Symptoms will provide physicians with “a practical, efficient, and cost-effective aid” for diagnosing gastrointestinal symptoms that are typical complaints but that are difficult for physicians to diagnose, according to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG).

Using an evidence-based practice approach, the new tool provides diagnostic pathways for common symptoms like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and constipation. The Diagnostic Algorithms are based on “the consensus of international experts, use standard methods and yes‐no decision trees, and all end in specific diagnoses.” According to the ACG, the Rome Foundation’s objective with the new tool is to provide a symptom-based diagnostic assessment of 15 of the most common GI complaints that bring patients to primary care physicians and gastroenterologists.

“Efficient diagnoses can be challenging especially since the symptoms for these disorders often mimic one another, and arise from several areas of the GI tract,” said guest editor John E. Kellow, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Sydney and Director, Gastrointestinal Investigation Unit, Royal North Shore Hospital. “Not only do many of these conditions lack reliable clinical signs, but also they do not exhibit structural change or biochemical abnormalities. As a result, many clinicians avoid making a formal diagnosis of a specific functional GI disorder, either categorizing the disorder as ‘functional’, or diagnosing a wide range of disorders and symptoms as ‘irritable bowel.’”

According to Philip O. Katz, MD, FACG, President, American College of Gastroenterology, the new Diagnostic Algorithms will be as beneficial for patients as they are helpful to physicians.

“These new algorithms offer the chance to advance the diagnostic capabilities of gastroenterologists and other healthcare practitioners by providing a clear and evidence‐based roadmap to make a specific diagnosis when it comes to complex functional GI disorders,” said Philip O. Katz, MD, FACG, President, American College of Gastroenterology. “Ultimately, these tools will have the potential to improve the patient’s experience and provide opportunities to reduce excessive testing and office visits in a quest for a definitive diagnosis and relief from their symptoms.”