Background: Chronic allograft dysfunction after lung transplantation contributes to poor long-term survival. A link between gastric aspiration and post-transplant lung dysfunction has been suggested, but little is known about the significance of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) after lung transplantation.
Methods: A retrospective study was performed to determine the prevalence of GERD in lung transplant recipients. Patients who underwent lung transplantation at Duke University, survived at least 6 months and had post-transplant 24-h pH studies were included in the analysis. Antireflux medications were discontinued prior to the pH study. Demographic data, pH study date and results, FEV1 at the time of the pH study, confirmed acute rejection episodes, and current medications were collected. The FEV1 ratio was calculated at the time of pH study (current FEV1/best post-transplant FEV1).
Results: Forty-three patients met entry criteria. Studies were performed at a median of 558 d post-transplant. Thirty of forty-three (69.8%) patients tested had abnormal total acid contact times (normal: <5%). The mean acid contact times for all patients were 10% total, 11.8% upright and 7.9% supine. A negative correlation was found between total or upright acid reflux and FEV1 ratio at the time of studies (-0.341 and -0.419; p = 0.025 and p = 0.005, respectively). The effect of acid reflux on FEV1 ratio remained significant after multivariable analysis.
Conclusions: There is a high prevalence of GERD among selected lung transplant recipients who had pH studies performed and its presence is associated with worse pulmonary function. Future studies are needed to assess whether GERD contributes to the pathogenesis of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS).