Objective: To evaluate the long-term efficacy and safety of omeprazole in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease resistant to treatment with histamine-2 (H2)-receptor antagonists.
Design: Cohort analytic study with a mean follow-up of 48 months (range, 36 to 64 months).
Setting: Patients receiving ambulatory care from referral centers.
Patients: 91 patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease resistant to treatment with an H2-receptor antagonist but subsequently responsive to 40 mg of omeprazole daily.
Intervention: Open maintenance therapy consisting of 20 mg of omeprazole daily in 86 patients and 40 mg daily in 5 patients.
Outcome measures: Endoscopy to assess healing; side effects, laboratory values, fasting serum gastrin level, and gastric corpus biopsies to assess safety.
Results: Esophagitis recurred in 47% of the patients receiving 20 mg of omeprazole daily, but all rehealed after the dose was doubled. Seven of 40 patients (18%) had a second relapse after a mean follow-up time of 24 months (range, 9 to 36 months) that was successfully treated with a further 20-mg dose increment for a mean period of 36 months (range, 6 to 39 months). Median gastrin levels increased initially from 60 ng/L before study entry to 162 ng/L (P < 0.01) with treatment and reached a plateau during maintenance treatment. Very high gastrin levels (> 500 ng/L) were observed in a subgroup (11%) of patients. The incidence of micronodular hyperplasia increased from 2.5% of the patients at first biopsy to 20% at the last biopsy (P = 0.001), with a corresponding progression of gastritis to subatrophic or atrophic gastritis from less than 1% to 25% (P < 0.001), which was more pronounced in patients with very high serum gastrin levels.
Conclusions: Maintenance therapy with omeprazole was effective for at least 5 years in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease resistant to treatment with H2-receptor antagonists. Treatment was accompanied by a persistent increase in serum gastrin levels and an increase of micronodular argyrophil cell hyperplasia and subatrophic or atrophic gastritis.