Background: Long-term intra-oesophageal acid suppression with proton pump inhibitors represents a management option for Barrett's oesophagus and severe reflux oesophagitis, but its stability over time has not been adequately assessed.
Aim: Our aim was to evaluate prospectively the efficacy of proton pump inhibitors in suppressing intra-oesophageal acidity after 2-year continuous treatment.
Methods: Forty-five patients with Barrett's oesophagus or severe reflux oesophagitis on a proton pump inhibitor regimen (once or twice daily) that normalised the total percentage acid exposure time were re-evaluated by means of 24-h oesophageal pH-monitoring after 2-year of continuous unmodified treatment.
Results: A significant rise in the total percentage acid exposure time was observed at 2-year follow-up (P=0.029), owing to an increased value in 27 (60%) cases (9 on a twice daily regimen), higher than normal in 10 of them (22% of the whole group) (3 on a twice daily regimen). In 18 patients (40%) the total percentage acid exposure time was stable or decreased. Heartburn remained efficiently suppressed in all patients.
Conclusions: The efficacy of proton pump inhibitors in suppressing intra-oesophageal acidity during continuous treatment may decrease over time, up to abnormal levels of oesophageal acid exposure in a minority of cases. This may occur without heartburn recurrence and with both once and twice daily regimens.