Pediatric Nephrology

, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 756–762

Gastrointestinal function in chronic renal failure

  • Alberto M. Ravelli
Practical Pediatric Nephrology

DOI: 10.1007/BF00868736

Cite this article as:
Ravelli, A.M. Pediatr Nephrol (1995) 9: 756. doi:10.1007/BF00868736


Feeding problems, anorexia and vomiting are common in infants and children with chronic renal failure (CRF), and play a major role in the growth failure often found in this condition. However, the gastroenterological and nutritional aspects of CRF in children have received little attention, hence therapeutic interventions are usually empirical and often ineffective. Gastritis, duodenitis and peptic ulcer are often found in adults with CRF on regular haemodialysis and following renal transplantation. Despite persistent hypergastrinaemia, gastric acid secretion is decreased rather than increased in most of these patients, and active peptic disease appears to be promoted by the removal of the acid output inhibition (neutralisation of gastric acid by ammonia) that follows active treatment.Helicobacter pylori, on the other hand, does not seem to play a significant role in the pathogenesis of peptic disease in CRF. Gastro-oesophageal reflux has been found in about 70% of infants and children with CRF suffering from vomiting and feeding problems, and thus appears to be a major problem in these patients. In a number of symptomatic patients with CRF, gastric dysrhythmias and delaved gastric emptying have also been found; hence there appears to be a complex disorder of gastrointestinal motility in CRF. Serum levels of several polypeptide hormones involved in the modulation of gastrointestinal motility [e.g. gastrin, cholecystokinin (CCK), neurotensin] and the regulation of hunger and satiety (e.g. glucagon, CCK) are significantly raised as a consequence of renal insufficiency, and can be reverted to normal by renal transplantation. Furthermore, several other humoral abnormalities (e.g. hypercalcaemia, hypokalaemia, acidosis, etc.) are not uncommon in CRF. By directly affecting the smooth muscle of the gut or stimulating particular areas within the central nervous system, all these humoral alterations may well play a major role in the gastrointestinal dysmotility, anorexia, nausea and vomiting in patients with CRF. Specific pharmacological and nutritional interventions should thus be considered for the treatment of vomiting and feeding problems in CRF.

Key words

Chronic renal failure Anorexia Vomiting Gastrointestinal function Polypeptide hormones 

Copyright information

© IPNA 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alberto M. Ravelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PaediatricsUniversity of BresciaBresciaItaly

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