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August 1991

Testing the Psychogenic Vomiting Diagnosis: Four Pediatric Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology (Dr Gonzalez-Heydrich), Pediatrics (Dr Kerner), and Psychiatry, Division of Child Psychiatry (Dr Steiner), Stanford (Calif) University Medical Center. Dr Gonzalez-Heydrich is now in private practices in Los Angeles.

Am J Dis Child. 1991;145(8):913-916. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1991.02160080091026

• We treated four patients with chronic vomiting during childhood in whom a tentative diagnosis of psychogenic vomiting was made after an extensive evaluation. In each case, the diagnosis was reconsidered during the course of treatment, as observations about the patients and their response to interventions accumulated. In three instances, these observations did not fit those expected if the diagnosis of psychogenic vomiting was correct. This led to a reexamination of the organic evaluation and the discovery of an undiagnosed organic contribution to the vomiting. In the fourth patient, gastric emptying studies confirmed that there was a strong psychological contribution to the vomiting, and helped to more carefully define this contribution. Family and individual psychotherapy and treatment were aided by the greater clarity in diagnosis.

(AJDC. 1991;145:913-916)

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