Clinical significance of minimal change lesions of the esophagus in a healthy Korean population: a nationwide multi-center prospective study

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 Jul;23(7 Pt 1):1153-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2008.05299.x. Epub 2008 Jan 19.


Background and aim: At least half of the patients with typical reflux symptoms have non-erosive reflux disease (NERD). Minimal change lesions are commonly seen in the screening endoscopic examinations for individuals without clinically significant symptoms. We evaluated the correlation between minimal changes and symptoms in individuals visiting the hospital for routine health check-up by a nationwide survey in 2006.

Methods: Upper gastrointestinal endoscopic examinations as a health check-up were performed for 25,536 patients. Among them, symptom questionnaires were given in 23,350 patients without mucosal break or Barrett's esophagus. Endoscopic findings of the lower esophagus were divided into normal or minimal changes. Minimal changes in the present study included white turbid discoloration and Z-line blurring.

Results: Among a total of 25,536 subjects, reflux esophagitis was found in 2019 subjects (7.91%) and 3043 patients (11.9%) were classified as having minimal changes. History of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) was more commonly found in individuals with minimal changes. Among the reflux-related symptoms, heartburn, acid regurgitation, globus sensation, and epigastric soreness were related to the minimal changes of the esophagus. Especially, individuals with globus sensation or epigastric soreness were more likely to have minimal changes compared to individuals without respective symptoms. Male gender, current smoker, history of H. pylori eradication, frequent stooping at work, hiatal hernia, and atrophic/metaplastic gastritis were found to be risk factors for minimal changes.

Conclusion: The minimal changes were closely related with upper gastrointestinal symptoms and had similar risk factors for GERD, suggesting that minimal changes could be considered as early endoscopic findings of GERD.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Esophagitis, Peptic / complications
  • Esophagitis, Peptic / ethnology
  • Esophagitis, Peptic / pathology*
  • Esophagoscopy
  • Esophagus / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gastritis / complications
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / ethnology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / pathology*
  • Heartburn / etiology
  • Helicobacter Infections / complications
  • Helicobacter Infections / microbiology
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Hernia, Hiatal / complications
  • Humans
  • Korea
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Posture
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires