Background and aims: The pathogenetic mechanism responsible for the increased prevalence of reflux esophagitis in the elderly remains controversial. The aim of this study was to determine if an increased occurrence of hiatus hernia (HH) and/or a lower rate of gastric mucosal atrophy (GMA) are the main causes of the increased prevalence of reflux esophagitis in elderly patients.
Methods: The prevalence of HH, GMA, and reflux esophagitis was investigated by reviewing the endoscopic films of 2788 consecutive patients examined during a 3-year period.
Results: The prevalence of esophagitis in males was higher than in females (11.6% vs 7.6%, P< 0.0005). The prevalence of reflux esophagitis and HH was found to increase with age in females, but not in male patients. The prevalence of reflux esophagitis in hernia-positive patients also increased with age in women, but not in men. Age, male gender, presence of HH, and closed-type of GMA were significant risk factors for the prevalence of esophagitis (P=0.0001, 0.0229, <0.0001, <0.0001, respectively). In addition, the risk ratios of HH and low-grade GMA for reflux esophagitis increased with age, and this tendency was higher in female patients than in males.
Conclusions: Aging, male gender, HH and closed-type GMA are most likely the risk factors of endoscopically proven reflux esophagitis in Japanese patients.