Background: Although long-term outcomes following laparoscopic fundoplication for gastro-oesophageal disease have now been reported as very satisfactory, a small, but important, minority of patients are unhappy with the outcome, often due to recurrent reflux symptoms or new-onset dysphagia. In this study, we sought to establish whether various parameters that can be determined before surgery, can predict the long-term outcome of surgery.
Methods: Data collected prospectively were evaluated to determine factors that were associated with outcome at 5 years following laparoscopic fundoplication. Inclusion criteria were complete preoperative assessment data and 5-year follow-up data. Data examined included information on preoperative age, sex, weight, home address, health insurance status, duration of reflux symptoms, previous surgery, operating surgeon, endoscopy and 24-h pH monitoring. In addition, lower oesophageal sphincter resting and residual relaxation pressures were evaluated before and after surgery. The postoperative symptoms of heartburn and dysphagia, as well as overall satisfaction 5 years following surgery was determined using a 0-10 visual analogue scale. The association of the pre- and perioperative factors and outcome at 5 years was determined by univariate and linear regression analysis.
Results: Two hundred and sixty-two patients from an overall experience of over 1000 laparoscopic anti-reflux procedures met the entry criteria. There was no association between patient address, age, weight, duration of symptoms, the presence of endoscopically proven oesophagitis, operating surgeon, the necessity for conversion to an open procedure, change in lower oesophageal sphincter residual relaxation pressure and the outcome parameters. Using univariate analysis, a higher heartburn score was associated with previous abdominal surgery, female sex, no private health insurance, and a normal preoperative 24-h pH study. A higher dysphagia score was associated with a normal preoperative pH study, a postoperative increase in lower oesophageal sphincter resting pressure of more than 6 mmHg, and previous abdominal surgery. Overall satisfaction with the outcome at 5 years was higher among male patients, private patients, patients who had a hiatus hernia, and patients who had an abnormal preoperative pH study. Linear regression analysis confirmed that private insurance, male sex, and the absence of previous abdominal surgery, were the strongest predictors of an improved heartburn score, whereas male sex and private health insurance were the strongest predictors of greater satisfaction with the overall outcome.
Conclusions: There are parameters that can be assessed before or during laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication that correlate with late outcome parameters. In particular, male patients and those from higher socioeconomic groups appear to have a better long-term outcome.