A strong link exists between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and airway diseases. Surgical therapy has been recommended as it is more effective than medical therapy in the short-term, but there is little data on the effectiveness of surgery long-term. We analyzed the long-term response of GERD-related airway disease after laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery (LARS).
Methods: In 2004, we contacted 128 patients with airway symptoms and GERD who underwent laparoscopic antireflux surgery (LARS) between 12/1993 and 12/ 2002. At median follow-up of 53 months (19-110 mo) we studied the effects on symptoms, esophageal acid exposure, and medication use and we analyzed the data to determine predictors of successful resolution of airway symptoms.
Results: Cough, hoarseness, wheezing, sore throat, and dyspnea improved in 65-75% of patients. Heartburn improved in 91% (105/116) of patients and regurgitation in 92% (90/98). The response rate for airway symptoms was the same in patients with and without heartburn. Almost every patient took proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) preoperatively (99%, 127/128) and 61% (n = 78) were taking double or triple dose. Postoperatively, 33% (n = 45) of patients were using daily antiacid therapy but no one was on double dose. The only factor that predicted a successful surgical outcome was the presence of abnormal reflux in the pharynx as determined by 24-hour pharyngeal pH monitoring. One hundred eleven (87%) patients rated their results as excellent (n = 78, 57%) or good (n = 33, 24%).
Conclusion: LARS provides an effective and durable barrier to reflux, and in so doing improves GERD-related airway symptoms in approximately 70% of patients and improves typical GERD symptoms in approximately 90% of patients. Pharyngeal pH monitoring identifies those patients more likely to benefit from LARS, but better diagnostic tools are needed to improve the response of airway symptoms to that of typical esophageal symptoms.