Article Text

PDF
Review
Cyclic vomiting syndrome: a case series and review of the literature
  1. Jessica Shearer1,
  2. Pavit Luthra1,
  3. Alexander C Ford1,2
  1. 1Leeds Gastroenterology Institute, St. James's University Hospital, Leeds, UK
  2. 2Leeds Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Alexander C Ford, Leeds Gastroenterology Institute, Room 125, 4th Floor, Bexley Wing, St. James's University Hospital, Beckett Street, Leeds LS9 7TF, UK; alexf12399{at}yahoo.com

Abstract

Objective Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is under-recognised. Treatment is difficult as the pathophysiology is incompletely understood. We report our experience of treating patients with amitriptyline, and review the literature to summarise symptoms and associated features, epidemiology, potential pathophysiological mechanisms, differential diagnoses and treatment.

Design Consecutive adult patients with CVS were identified during a 5-year period from January 2010 until December 2015. Medical records were reviewed retrospectively, and age and sex of the patient, symptoms, associated features and response to treatment with amitriptyline were recorded.

Setting A luminal gastroenterology clinic at a teaching hospital.

Results Seventeen patients were identified (mean age 29.8 years, 13 (76.5%) female). Five had a history of cannabis use. Duration of symptoms prior to diagnosis ranged from 5 months to 15 years. Fourteen patients commenced amitriptyline, and in eight (57.1%) symptoms either ceased entirely or improved. Review of the literature suggested the prevalence of CVS was 0.5%. Symptoms are stereotypical, with acute episodes of nausea and vomiting, interspersed by periods when the patient is symptom-free. Proposed pathophysiologies include neuroendocrine dysfunction, mutations in mitochondrial DNA and re-intoxication effects from cannabis stored in fat tissues. Treatment during the acute phase is supportive, with rehydration, sedation and antiemetics. Prophylaxis to prevent future attacks with antihistamines, antimigraine drugs, antiepileptics and tricyclic antidepressants may be beneficial. Complete cessation of cannabis smoking should be advised.

Conclusions Diagnosis of CVS is often delayed in adults. Once identified, patients respond well to amitriptyline.

  • ABDOMINAL PAIN
  • BRAIN/GUT INTERACTION
  • AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.