Association of apnea and nonacid gastroesophageal reflux in infants: Investigations with the intraluminal impedance technique

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2001 Feb;31(2):144-9. doi: 10.1002/1099-0496(200102)31:2<144::aid-ppul1023>;2-z.


An association of apnea and gastroesophageal reflux (GER) was proposed previously. However, pH metry as the standard diagnostic tool for GER only measures acid reflux (pH < 4). It is difficult to interpret studies in infants with a presumed association between apnea and GER based on pH metry because the buffering effect of feeding may result in predominantly nonacid GER. The aim of this study was to investigate the temporal association of apnea and GER with the pH-independent intraluminal impedance technique (IMP). Infants with recurrent regurgitation or respiratory symptoms suggestive of apnea were investigated simultaneously with IMP, pH monitoring, and polygraphy. IMP patterns, pH, oronasal flow, and chest wall movement were recorded and analyzed. In 22 infants, 364 GER episodes were recorded by IMP. One hundred and sixty five apneas were documented by visual validation of polygraph records. Forty-nine apneas (29.7%) were associated with GER; 11 (22.4%) of these showed acid reflux (pH < 4). A significant correlation between the time spent apneic and GER was found (P < 0.001). There is marked association between apnea and gastroesophageal reflux in infants. Patients potentially at risk cannot be reliably identified by pH metry. Its exclusive use is therefore not suitable for the detection of all GER-associated apneas in infants. The pH-independent intraluminal impedance technique has proven to be a sensitive diagnostic tool for this approach.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Apnea / complications*
  • Apnea / diagnosis
  • Apnea / pathology
  • Electric Impedance
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / diagnosis
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Respiration
  • Time Factors