Background: An increase in postoperative dysphagia has been reported after laparoscopic fundoplication. Our aim was to compare laparoscopic Nissen-Rossetti fundoplication to open fundoplication regarding oesophageal clearance and dysphagia in a prospective, randomized study.
Methods: Twenty-eight consecutive patients with objectively observed gastro-oesophageal reflux disease referred to operative treatment were randomized to laparoscopic (13) or open (15) fundoplication. A standard formula was used in pre- and postoperative interview. Oesophageal clearance was measured by liquid bolus radionuclide transit before and 3 days, 1 month and 1 year after fundoplication. Endoscopy was done preoperatively and 1 year after the operation.
Results: Heartburn, regurgitation and ooesophagitis were cured with equal effectiveness (p = 0.001). New-onset dysphagia was observed in nine (69%) of the patients in the laparoscopic group and in nine (60%) in the open group during the first postoperative month. Food impaction occurred in four (31%) cases after laparoscopic and in two (13%) after open surgery (ns). One year after the operation, one patient (8%) in both groups had more than mild symptoms. Oesophageal radionuclide transit remained normal after open fundoplication, but after the laparoscopic procedure oesophageal clearance was disturbed--only one patient did not have a pathologic result during the first postoperative month. One year after the operation, clearance was normal.
Conclusions: After laparoscopic operation, a tendency to more severe new-onset dysphagia was observed, and oesophageal clearance was transiently disturbed. Efforts should be made to minimize postoperative swallowing and clearance disturbances after laparoscopic fundoplication in order to get the full value out of otherwise more rapid recovery.