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From Heave to Leave: Understanding Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Thurler, Andrea H. DNP, RN, FNP-BC; Kuo, Braden MD

doi: 10.1097/SGA.0000000000000013

Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is an idiopathic functional gastrointestinal disorder that has been underrecognized in the adult population. Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain are common presentations to gastrointestinal nursing. There are multiple differential diagnoses the clinician must consider prior to a diagnosis of CVS to recognize the disorder. CVS occurs in 4 phases: (a) interepisodic, (b) prodromal, (c) vomiting, and (d) recovery. Each phase has specific treatment guidelines. There is no specific “cure” for CVS; proper management is key. Increasing awareness of CVS is paramount to its detection. CVS has been examined in the pediatric population and has often been considered a pediatric disorder. More recently, it has come to be recognized in the adult population. Proper care and management of these patients allow for better support for patients and their families who are often on the primary caregivers. Nurses are often on the front lines of care and knowledge of CVS from the beginning should lead to shortened hospital stays and optimal patient care.

Andrea H. Thurler, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, is Nurse Practitioner, Gastroenterology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

Braden Kuo, MD, is Attending Physician, Gastroenterology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

Correspondence to: Andrea H. Thurler, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, Massachusetts General Hospital Gastroenterology, 165 Cambridge St., 9th Floor, Boston, MA 02114 (

The authors declare no funding or conflict of interest.

Received January 31, 2012

Accepted August 02, 2012

© 2013 by the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, Inc.