Background: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common condition which is often aggravated by morbid obesity. Lap-Band surgery provides effective weight loss in the morbidly obese. There have been several reports that gastric banding causes or aggravates reflux. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of Lap-Band placement on GERD.
Methods: All patients with a significant history of GERD who had a Lap-Band inserted over a 2-year period were evaluated postoperatively to assess any change in impact on reflux. Resolution required absence of reflux symptoms and no anti-reflux drug therapy.
Results: There were 48 (16%) of 274 consecutive patients with a significant history of reflux esophagitis requiring regular therapy preoperatively. The median age was 39 (range 23-58) and M:F ratio was 5:43. We confirm a high prevalence of GERD in patients with morbid obesity: 17% with symptoms requiring regular therapy (Community Norm 7%). Total resolution of all reflux symptoms occurred in 36 (76%) patients, improvement in 7 (14%), no change in 3 (6%), and aggravation of symptoms in 2 (4%). Patients with severe and moderate symptoms had similar improvement. Resolution or improvement was reported soon after surgery.
Conclusion: Rapid and major improvement in symptoms of GERD occurs after Lap-Band placement. The placement of the band probably acts directly to reduce reflux. This result contrasts with reports which have found gastric banding causes or aggravates GERD.