Background: Patients with typical reflux symptoms (heartburn/regurgitation) persisting despite proton pump inhibitor (PPI) therapy are not uncommon. Impedance-pH monitoring detects gastroesophageal reflux at all pH levels and may establish if ongoing symptoms on PPI therapy are associated with acid/nonacid reflux. Laparoscopic fundoplication is a therapeutic option in such patients but reflux parameters on PPI therapy and after intervention and their relationship with symptom persistence/remission have been scarcely studied.
Aims: The aim of this study was to assess reflux parameters and their relationship with symptoms before and after laparoscopic fundoplication, on and off PPI therapy, respectively, in patients with PPI-unresponsive heartburn/regurgitation and with a positive symptom-reflux association and/or abnormal reflux parameters detected on PPI therapy.
Methods: Impedance-pH monitoring was performed on high-dose PPI therapy and 3 months after laparoscopic fundoplication, off PPI therapy, in 40 patients with PPI-unresponsive heartburn/regurgitation. Symptoms were scored by a validated questionnaire.
Results: Esophageal acid exposure time as well as the number of total and proximal reflux events and of acid and weakly acidic refluxes decreased significantly after surgery: normal values were found in 100, 77, 95, 92 and 65% of cases, respectively. Weakly alkaline refluxes increased significantly postoperatively but neither before nor after intervention were associated with symptoms. All patients reported total/subtotal remission of heartburn/regurgitation 3 months after surgery.
Conclusions: Laparoscopic fundoplication improves acid and weakly acidic reflux parameters when compared with PPI therapy. This improvement justifies the very high post-surgical symptom remission rate that we observed. Prolonged follow-up is warranted but our findings strongly support the surgical option in PPI failures.