Objective: After Nissen fundoplication, dyspeptic symptoms such as fullness and early satiety develop in >30% of patients. These symptoms may result from alterations in proximal gastric motor and sensory function.
Methods: We have evaluated proximal gastric motor and sensory function using an electronic barostat in 12 patients after successful laparoscopic Nissen fundoplications (median follow-up; 12 months). Twelve age- and gender-matched patients with severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and 12 healthy volunteers served as controls. Studies were performed in the fasting state and after meal ingestion. Gastric emptying tests were performed in all patients. Vagus nerve integrity was measured by the response of pancreatic polypeptide (PP) to insulin hypoglycemia.
Results: Minimal distending pressure and proximal gastric compliance were not significantly different between post-Nissen patients, GERD patients, and healthy controls. Postprandial relaxation of the stomach, however, was significantly (p < 0.05) reduced post-Nissen (267 +/- 34 ml), compared with controls (400 +/- 30 ml) and GERD (448 +/- 30 ml). Postprandial relaxation was significantly (p < 0.01) prolonged in GERD patients. Postprandial relaxation of the stomach correlated with gastric emptying of solids (r = 0.62; p = 0.01). Gastric emptying of solids became significantly (p < 0.05) faster after fundoplication. Postprandial fullness was significantly (p < 0.05) increased in the operated patients.
Conclusions: Post-Nissen patients have a significantly reduced postprandial gastric relaxation and significantly accelerated gastric emptying, which may explain postoperative dyspeptic symptoms. The abnormalities result from fundoplication and not from vagus nerve injury or reflux per se, because in reflux patients gastric relaxation and gastric emptying are prolonged.