Bile reflux gastritis

South Med J. 1987 Feb;80(2):161-5. doi: 10.1097/00007611-198702000-00005.


Bile reflux gastritis is a disabling postgastrectomy condition characterized by abdominal pain, bilious vomiting, and weight loss. The syndrome appears to be caused by free enterogastric reflux of bile and other proximal small bowel constituents. Endoscopic confirmation of bile reflux and documentation of gastritis support the diagnosis but are not specific for it. Results of medical therapy with chelating agents or drugs that promote gastric motility have been disappointing. Diet and antacids frequently aggravate symptoms. The only effective treatment is surgical diversion of bile away from the gastric mucosa. During a recent seven-year period, 15 patients had diversionary operation for bile reflux gastritis diagnosed by history and endoscopic findings. Before operation, medical management had failed to yield improvement in any case. After operation, all patients showed improvement, and pain was relieved in 85%. Based on our experience, we conclude that current medical therapy may alter but not cure symptoms of bile reflux gastritis; Roux-en-Y diversion is the treatment of choice in patients with persistent symptoms; and delayed gastric emptying is a common complication after the Roux-en-Y procedure, but in our series, the incidence was reduced by using the Tanner 19 modification. New cytoprotective agents that may offer an alternative to operation are currently being studied.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bile Reflux / diagnosis
  • Bile Reflux / etiology*
  • Bile Reflux / surgery
  • Biliary Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrectomy / adverse effects
  • Gastric Emptying
  • Gastritis / diagnosis
  • Gastritis / etiology*
  • Gastritis / surgery
  • Gastroscopy
  • Humans
  • Jejunum / surgery
  • Male
  • Methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Retrospective Studies