Effects of antireflux procedures on respiratory symptoms

Ann Thorac Surg. 2002 Feb;73(2):381-5. doi: 10.1016/s0003-4975(01)03407-5.


Background: Antireflux surgery can reduce respiratory symptoms associated with gastroesophageal reflux. However, there is a paucity of data on the durability of this benefit. To evaluate the long-term effects of antireflux surgery on respiratory complaints associated with gastroesophageal reflux, we reviewed our experience.

Methods: Retrospective review of 2,123 antireflux procedures completed between 1986 and 1998 identified 65 patients (3.1%) with associated respiratory symptoms. There were 32 men and 33 women, ranging in age from 20 to 80 years (median 59 years). Respiratory symptoms included wheezing in 43 patients, sputum production in 37, cough in 30, choking episodes in 24, and hoarseness in 17. Preoperative medication use included steroids in 23 patients and bronchodilators in 18.

Results: Antireflux operations included the uncut Collis-Nissen fundoplication in 29 patients, Belsy Mark IV repair in 13, open Nissen fundoplication in 13, and laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication in 10. Perioperative complications occurred in 19 patients who underwent open procedures and in none who had laparoscopic procedures. There was one death in the open-operation group and none in the laparoscopic group. Median follow-up was 65 months (range 1 to 174 months) and was complete in 62 patients (96.9%). Improvement in respiratory symptoms (83%) and reduction in-respiratory medication use (78%) were significant as compared to a calculated 33% placebo-effect improvement (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Antireflux operations significantly reduce respiratory complaints associated with gastroesophageal reflux. This benefit appears to be long term.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fundoplication*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / diagnosis
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome