Gastroesophageal reflux disease: a typical spectrum disease (a new conceptual framework is not needed)

Am J Gastroenterol. 2004 May;99(5):946-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2004.04164.x.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common GI disorder, particularly frequent in the primary care setting, with a high direct and indirect economic burden on society. Despite the high prevalence and costs of the disease, the epidemiology and natural history of GERD have not been fully elucidated. It has recently been suggested to abandon the current model of GERD as a "spectrum" disease and to adopt a new conceptual framework, e.g., categorizing GERD into three unique groups of patients: nonerosive reflux disease, erosive esophagitis, and Barrett's esophagus. In the present review we present arguments against this proposal, and argue that the concept of a single disease, potentially progressing from mild nonerosive forms toward metaplasia and neoplasia (adenocarcinoma), still holds true and may in fact help us in planning the diagnostic and therapeutic approach as well as in allocating financial resources much better than the proposed model of a "tripartited" disease. Independently from the conceptual model adopted, however, more data on the natural history of patients with GERD are eagerly needed.

MeSH terms

  • Barrett Esophagus / pathology*
  • Esophagitis, Peptic / diagnosis*
  • Esophagitis, Peptic / epidemiology*
  • Esophagitis, Peptic / therapy
  • Esophagoscopy / methods
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / diagnosis*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / epidemiology*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / therapy
  • Gastroscopy / methods
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors*
  • Proton Pumps / therapeutic use
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Proton Pump Inhibitors
  • Proton Pumps