Functional dyspepsia (FD) is a chronic gastroduodenal disorder. Individuals with FD demonstrate visceral hypersensitivity, abnormal central pain processing, and low mood, but it is unclear whether psychotropic drugs are an effective treatment for the condition. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs).
MEDLINE, EMBASE, EMBASE Classic, PsychINFO and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register were searched (up to June 2015) for RCTs recruiting adults with FD comparing psychotropic drugs with placebo. We contacted authors directly to maximise trial eligibility and minimise risk of bias for studies. Dichotomous symptom data were pooled to obtain relative risk (RR) of remaining symptomatic after therapy, with 95% CIs.
The search identified 2795 citations; 13 RCTs (1241 patients) were eligible. Ten trials were at low risk of bias. The RR of FD symptoms not improving with psychotropic drugs versus placebo was 0.78 (95% CI 0.68 to 0.91) (number needed to treat=6; 95% CI 4 to 16). However, benefit was limited to antipsychotics and tricyclic antidepressants. When only studies that excluded individuals with coexistent mood disorder were considered, there was no benefit. Total numbers of adverse events and adverse events leading to withdrawal were significantly more common, with a number needed to harm of 21 for both.
Psychotropic drugs may be an effective treatment for FD, but the effect appears to be limited to antipsychotics and tricyclic antidepressants with fewer trials for other agents, meaning that firm conclusions for efficacy cannot be made. More data from high quality RCTs are required to support their use in the treatment of FD.