Background: Fundoplication is commonly complicated by belching difficulty and abdominal bloating. Postoperative belching ability, however, is difficult to assess; subjective patient reporting is often used but may be unreliable. Manometric measurement of the gastro-oesophageal 'common cavity' is an objective marker of gastro-oesophageal gas reflux.
Methods: Twenty patients who had undergone Nissen fundoplication and 11 healthy controls underwent oesophageal manometry at rest and during gastric distension for 10 min with 750 ml of gas.
Results: Half of the patients reported an inability to belch; the other half reported varying degrees of belching difficulty, most of whom were rarely able to relieve bloating by belching. During gastric distension, none of the patients had transient lower oesophageal sphincter relaxation, while the controls had a median of 1 (range 0-1). Patients had fewer common cavities than controls; however, none of the belch urges experienced during gastric distension in patients was associated with a common cavity, compared with 48 per cent in controls.
Conclusion: After fundoplication, patients do not belch as a result of gastro-oesophageal gas reflux; rather it may be due to oesophagopharyngeal reflux of swallowed air. Subjective reporting of belching ability is inaccurate and manometric measurement of common cavities provides a better means of assessment.