Background: The water load test is a simple, cheap and standardized method to evaluate gastric distension and gastric motility responses. We have previously shown that in patients with mild erosive or non-erosive esophagitis this test is frequently abnormal, suggesting an altered gastric function. The aim was to evaluate the water load test score before and after Nissen fundoplication in reflux patients.
Methods: Thirty-one patients (16 men, 15 women, mean age 46.5 y) were studied before and 3 months after Nissen fundoplication by stationary esophageal manometry, wireless Bravo pH system monitoring (48 hours), and water load test. A dyspepsia symptom questionnaire was also completed before and after surgery. Data were compared with those of 35 controls.
Results: All patients had pH-monitoring positive for pathological acid exposure and/or related-reflux symptoms in the absence of motility disorders. Basal symptoms scores were higher in patients compared to controls and improved after surgery, except than postprandial fullness, early satiation, and bloating, that were significantly increased. At baseline, all patients ingested significantly lower water volumes than controls, with a tendency to early onset of fullness and nausea, respectively. After surgery, the water volumes were significantly lower than presurgery.
Conclusions: In patients with reflux-related symptoms, with or without esophagitis, the water load test is frequently abnormal, suggesting an altered gastric function. Nissen fundoplication is associated with a relatively higher incidence of bloating, epigastric pain and fullness. These preliminary data could explain the incomplete resolution of symptoms after surgery in some patients, and suggest the use of additional studies to explore the gastric function in presurgical evaluation.