Objectives: Studies of the relative frequency of transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations (TLESRs) in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease and asymptomatic controls have revealed conflicting data. We have therefore studied the frequency of TLESRs and the frequency and mechanisms of acid reflux episodes in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease and age- and sex-matched asymptomatic controls using standardized criteria.
Methods: Ten patients with symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux disease (four male, aged 50 [30-59] yr) and 10 asymptomatic matched volunteers (four male, aged 50 [32-59] yr) were studied. Esophageal, lower esophageal sphincter, and gastric manometric and esophageal pH readings were recorded for 1 h before and 1 h after a 200-kcal, 150 ml long-chain triglyceride meal.
Results: TLESR frequency increased after the meal in both volunteers (median 0 [range = 0-3] to 3 [0-8] per hour,p < 0.01) and patients (1 [0-6] to 2.5 [0-9] per hour, p = 0.08). There was no significant difference in the frequency of TLESRs between volunteers and patients. TLESRs were more likely to be associated with acid reflux in patients (65% vs 37%, p = 0.03), whereas volunteers were more likely to reflux gas or liquid without acid (30% vs 3.0%, p = 0.01).
Conclusions: TLESRs are no more frequent in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease than age- and sex-matched asymptomatic volunteers. However, when TLESRs occur in patients, they are twice as likely to be associated with acid reflux.