The prevalence of distal and proximal gastroesophageal reflux in patients awaiting lung transplantation

Ann Surg. 2006 Oct;244(4):491-7. doi: 10.1097/01.sla.0000237757.49687.03.


Objective: To determine the prevalence and proximal extent of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) in patients awaiting lung transplantation.

Background: GERD has been postulated to contribute to accelerated graft failure in patients who have had lung transplantations. However, the prevalence of reflux symptoms, esophageal motility abnormalities, and proximal esophageal reflux among patients with end-stage lung disease awaiting lung transplantation are unknown.

Methods: A total of 109 patients with end-stage lung disease awaiting lung transplantation underwent symptomatic assessment, esophageal manometry, and esophageal pH monitoring (using a probe with 2 sensors located 5 and 20 cm above the lower esophageal sphincter).

Results: Reflux symptoms were not predictive of the presence of reflux (sensitivity, 67%; specificity, 26%). Esophageal manometry showed a high prevalence of a hypotensive lower esophageal sphincter (55%) and impaired esophageal peristalsis (47%) among patients with reflux. Distal reflux was present in 68% of patients and proximal reflux was present in 37% of patients.

Conclusions: These data show that in patients with end-stage lung disease: 1) symptoms were insensitive and nonspecific for diagnosing reflux; 2) esophageal motility was frequently abnormal; 3) 68% of patients had GERD; 4) in 50% of the patients with GERD, acid refluxed into the proximal esophagus. We conclude that patients with end-stage lung disease should be screened with pH monitoring for GERD.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / epidemiology*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / complications*
  • Lung Diseases / physiopathology
  • Lung Transplantation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Waiting Lists