Treatment of chronic recurrent abdominal pain: laparoscopy or hypnosis?

J Laparoendosc Adv Surg Tech A. 2009 Feb;19(1):93-6.
Galili O, Shaoul R, Mogilner J. Department of General Surgery, Bnei-Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel.



Functional chronic recurrent abdominal pain (FCRAP) is long lasting, intermittent, or constant pain affecting 15-30% of children ages 4-18 and presents a diagnostic and treatment challenge to the physician. The predictive value of diagnostic tests is questionable, and studies of the treatment of chronic abdominal pain show inconclusive evidence regarding diet regimens as well as medical and surgical treatments. However, there is evidence that cognitive-behavioral therapy may be useful in improving pain and disability outcome. Increasing the understanding of the neural-pain pathways and research in cognitive modulation of pain led to the application of behavioral strategies in children with FCRAP with variable success. However, the use of hypnotherapy in children with recurrent abdominal pain is not common. During the last 3 years, we have implemented hypnosis as the preferred treatment for patients with FCRAP. In the current study, we aimed to summarize our experience with hypnosis for the treatment of FCRAP in children.


Twenty patients who met the criteria for FCRAP were candidates for hypnosis. Hypnosis or imagery was offered to the families, of whom 3 refused. Seventeen patients underwent just one single session of hypnosis.


A possible nonorganic etiology for the abdominal pain was revealed in all cases. In 14 adolescents, all clinical symptoms resolved. Hypnosis was not effective in 3 cases, in whom secondary gain was probably responsible for their symptoms. No side effects have been noted during and after the study. Follow-up was available for a period of 4-24 months.


Although effective in the management of acute pain and distress in pediatric cancer patients, the use of hypnotherapy in children with FCRAP is not a common practice. The current study highly supports the use of hypnosis as a part of the biobehavioral approach for this dilemma.