Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Straightening the road from the Rome criteria

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2020 Aug 17;e13957. doi: 10.1111/nmo.13957.Online ahead of print.

Michael Camilleri 1


Author information

  • 1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Clinical Enteric Neuroscience Translational and Epidemiological Research (CENTER), Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.


A sequence of consensus-based Rome criteria for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has been published since 1989. The fundamental definition based on abdominal pain in association with bowel dysfunction has been consistent. However, two major changes occurred in the Rome II and IV criteria. The former change involved "splitting off" of symptoms that were not consistently associated with pain, such as functional, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. In Rome IV, the main changes were the exclusion of discomfort (in contrast to pain) and the more stringent frequency criteria for the pain to be eligible for diagnosis of IBS (specifically, on average, at least 1 day per week in the last 3 months). Validation studies of the consensus, symptom-based criteria have identified multiple deficiencies that question the rationale for "splitting" the different syndromes, and favor a simpler identification of the classical symptoms of abdominal pain, bowel dysfunction, and bloating, and exclusion of alarm symptoms. Advances in the identification of actionable biomarkers related to the symptoms suggestive of functional gastrointestinal disorders have the potential to usher a change in practice from positive diagnosis of symptom complexes followed by empirical treatment to identification of the mechanisms causing the symptoms and targeted therapy.

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