Background: Long-term survival after lung transplantation (LTx) is limited largely by bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS). Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is proposed as a risk factor for BOS development. This study investigates the relationship between BOS and GERD measured by esophageal impedance.
Methods: After the initiation of routine screening for GERD, 59 LTx recipients underwent ambulatory esophageal impedance monitoring. Exposure to acid reflux and non-acid liquid reflux was recorded. Clinical outcomes were reviewed to analyze any effect of reflux on the time to development of BOS.
Results: Thirty-seven (65%) had abnormal acid reflux and 16 (27%) had abnormal non-acid reflux. There was no relationship between acid reflux and BOS. The hazard ratio (HR) for development of BOS in the presence of abnormal non-acid reflux was 2.8 (p = 0.043). The HR for development of BOS increased to 3.6 (p = 0.022) when the number of acute rejection episodes was also taken into account.
Conclusions: GERD is prevalent in LTx recipients and may represent a modifiable risk factor for BOS. This study found non-acid reflux, measured by esophageal impedance to be associated with the development of BOS. Prospective studies are now required to investigate a causal association between GERD and the development of BOS and to establish the role of surgery for GERD in preventing progression to BOS. The methods used to identify GERD in future studies may be important.