The prevalence of hypopharynx findings associated with gastroesophageal reflux in normal volunteers

J Voice. 2002 Dec;16(4):564-79. doi: 10.1016/s0892-1997(02)00132-7.


Routine laryngeal examination of patients with otolaryngologic complaints often reveals findings thought to result from gastroesophageal reflux. The direct association between these mucosal findings and uncontrolled reflux is not well established. To begin exploring the specificity of tissue signs, 105 normal, healthy, adult volunteers were examined by routine video fiber-optic endoscopy for the presence of findings attributed to reflux disease. Medical conditions, lifestyle factors, and ENT complaints were surveyed to reveal potential airway irritants, while the study design attempted to eliminate silent reflux. The majority of subjects (86%) had findings associated with reflux and certain signs reached a prevalence of 70%. Prevalence was not affected by ENT complaint, smoking, alcohol, or asthma. Intraexaminer and interexaminer agreement information is provided. The traditional attribution of hypopharynx irritation signs to reflux is challenged; the need for improved diagnostic specificity is highlighted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications*
  • Humans
  • Hypopharynx / physiopathology*
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharyngeal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Pharyngeal Diseases / etiology*
  • Pharyngeal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Videotape Recording