Background: By analysis of symptom-reflux association, endoscopy-negative refractory heartburn can be related to acid/non-acid refluxes with impedance-pH monitoring. Unfortunately, patients frequently do not report symptoms during the test. We aimed to assess the contribution of quantitative analysis of impedance-pH parameters added to symptom-reflux association in evaluating patients with endoscopy-negative heartburn refractory to high-dose proton pump inhibitor therapy.
Methods: The symptom association probability (SAP), the symptom index (SI), the esophageal acid exposure time and the number of distal and proximal refluxes were assessed at on-therapy impedance-pH monitoring. Relationships with hiatal hernia and manometric findings were also evaluated.
Key results: Eighty patients were prospectively studied. Refractory heartburn was more frequently related to reflux by a positive SAP/SI and/or abnormal impedance-pH parameters (52/80 cases) (65%) than by a positive SAP/SI only (38/80 cases) (47%) (P = 0.038). In patients with refractory non-erosive reflux disease (NERD) defined by a positive SAP/SI and/or abnormal impedance-pH parameters, the prevalence of hiatal hernia was significantly higher (56%vs 21%, P = 0.007) and the mean lower esophageal sphincter tone was significantly lower (18.7 vs 25.8 mmHg, P = 0.005) than in those (35%) with reflux-unrelated, i.e., functional heartburn (FH). On the contrary, no significant difference was observed subdividing patients according to a positive SAP/SI only.
Conclusions & inferences: Quantitative analysis of impedance-pH parameters added to symptom-reflux association allows a subdivision of refractory-heartburn patients into refractory NERD and FH which is substantiated by pathophysiological findings and which restricts the diagnosis of FH to one third of cases.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.