Open Access Research article

Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS): is there a difference based on onset of symptoms - pediatric versus adult?

Nilay Kumar1, Qumseya Bashar2, Naveen Reddy3, Jyotirmoy Sengupta1, Ashwin Ananthakrishnan4, Abigail Schroeder1, Walter J Hogan1 and Thangam Venkatesan1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Medical College of Wisconsin, 4th Floor, Froedtert East Building, 9200 W Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI, 53226, USA

2 Mayo Clinic Florida, Florida, USA

3 Wayne State University, Detroit, USA

4 Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts, USA

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BMC Gastroenterology 2012, 12:52  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-12-52

Published: 28 May 2012



Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) is a well-recognized functional gastrointestinal disorder in children but its presentation is poorly understood in adults. Genetic differences in pediatric-onset (presentation before age 18) and adult-onset CVS have been reported recently but their clinical features and possible differences in response to therapy have not been well studied.


This was a retrospective review of 101 CVS patients seen at the Medical College of Wisconsin between 2006 and 2008. Rome III criteria were utilized to make the diagnosis of CVS.


Our study population comprised of 29(29%) pediatric-onset and 72 (71%) adult-onset CVS patients. Pediatric-onset CVS patients were more likely to be female (86% vs. 57%, p = 0.005) and had a higher prevalence of CVS plus (CVS + neurocognitive disorders) as compared to adult-onset CVS patients (14% vs. 3%, p = 0.05). There was a longer delay in diagnosis (10 ± 7 years) in the pediatric-onset group when compared to (5 ± 7 years) adult-onset CVS group (p = 0.001). Chronic opiate use was less frequent in the pediatric-onset group compared to adult-onset patients (0% vs. 23%, p = 0.004). Aside from these differences, the two groups were similar with regards to their clinical features and the time of onset of symptoms did not predict response to standard treatment. The majority of patients (86%) responded to treatment with tricyclic antidepressants, anticonvulsants (topiramate), coenzyme Q-10, and L-carnitine. Non-response to therapy was associated with coalescence of symptoms, chronic opiate use and more severe disease as characterized by longer episodes, greater number of emergency department visits in the year prior to presentation, presence of disability and non-compliance on univariate analysis. On multivariate analysis, only compliance to therapy was associated with a response. (88% vs. 38%, Odds Ratio, OR 9.6; 95% Confidence Interval [CI], 1.18-77.05).


Despite reported genetic differences, the clinical features and response to standard therapy in pediatric- and adult-onset CVS were mostly similar. Most patients (86%) responded to therapy and compliance was the only factor associated with a response.

Motility; Cyclic vomiting; Nausea; Abdominal pain