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Relationship between symptom response and oesophageal acid exposure after medical and surgical treatment for gastro‐oesophageal reflux disease

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The relationship between symptom severity and objective evidence of gastro‐oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) after medical and surgical treatment has recently been questioned. This study aimed to compare the symptomatic and physiological response (as measured by pHmetry) to the treatment of GORD by proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and by laparoscopic antireflux surgery, and to examine the relationship between the patient's subjective and objective response to treatment of GORD.


Seventy patients underwent 24‐h oesophageal pH measurement and DeMeester symptom assessment (for heartburn and regurgitation, grade 0–3) while off medical treatment, while taking PPIs and after laparoscopic fundoplication.


The median percentage total time with oesophageal pH < 4 off treatment, during medical treatment and after fundoplication was 9·5, 4·3 and 0·5 per cent respectively. After medical treatment 30 patients became asymptomatic although 18 of these still had pathological reflux on pH testing. Of the 19 patients who remained symptomatic after surgery only two had pathological acid reflux.


The symptomatic response of patients to either PPIs or antireflux surgery is a poor indicator of successful treatment in terms of reduced lower oesophageal acid exposure. A high proportion of patients whose symptoms are improved by PPIs still have pathological levels of acid reflux. Conversely, most patients who complain of reflux symptoms after antireflux surgery have no evidence of residual reflux on pHmetry. Copyright © 2004 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Academic Gastrointestinal Physiology Unit, St Bartholomews and Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Royal London Hospital, London, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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