Author(s): CastroRodrguez JA, SalazarLindo E, LenBara R
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Abstract Clinical features and laboratory tests that determine carbohydrate in faeces were evaluated to determine which was best able to distinguish between osmotic and secretory diarrhoea in infants and children. For this purpose 80 boys aged 3 to 24 months, with acute watery diarrhoea, were studied prospectively. The faecal osmolar gap (FOG) was calculated as: serum osmolarity-[2 x (faecal sodium + potassium concentration)]. Fifty eight patients were classified as having predominantly osmotic diarrhoea (FOG > 100 mosmol/l), and 22 as having predominantly secretory diarrhoea (FOG < or = 100 mosmol/l). The two groups were comparable in their clinical features on admission, in the results of blood and urine tests, and in the evolution of their diarrhoeal illness. Evidence of steatorrhoea (by positive Sudan III test) and of acid faecal pH on admission were significantly more frequent in patients with osmotic diarrhoea. Mean (SD) faecal osmolarity was not significantly different between the two groups (319 (80) mosmol/l in secretory diarrhoea v 361 (123) mosmol/l in osmotic diarrhoea). Tests for reducing substances in faeces such as Benedict's test--with and without hydrolysis--and glucose strip, all showed a positive and significant association with osmotic diarrhoea (p < 0.05, < 0.025, < 0.05, respectively). The presence of excess reducing substances (Benedict's test with hydrolysis > 2+) on admission was the most sensitive and specific test with the best predictive value for differentiating between the two types of watery diarrhoea.
This article was published in Arch Dis Child
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Case Reports