The Second Canadian Consensus Conference on the Management of Patients with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) was organized by the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology to address major advances in the understanding of the pathophysiology of GERD, to review the new methods of investigation and therapy introduced since the first conference in 1992 and to examine the issue of relevant health economics. The changes that have taken place over the past four years have been sufficiently dramatic to necessitate reassessment of the recommendations made following the first conference. The second conference dealt with the investigation and treatment of uncomplicated GERD and the complex issues of esophageal and extraesophageal complications such as chest pain, Barrett's esophagus, and reflux-related pulmonary and laryngeal disorders. The role of laparoscopic surgery was also discussed. A decision tree for investigation and treatment of patients with GERD was developed. The 38 participants represented a broad spectrum of experience, location of practice and special interests. The distribution of participants conformed to the recommendations of the Canadian Medical Association guidelines for consensus documents in that there should be input from all possible interested parties. A list of the state-of-the-art lectures presented during the conference, the small group sessions, the session chairpersons and participants are appended to this document. CONCLUSIONS. UNCOMPLICATED GERD: GERD with alarm symptoms must be investigated immediately. There was no consensus about when to investigate uncomplicated GERD, ie, whether to perform endoscopy immediately or after initial therapy fails. There was controversy regarding 'step up' (H2 receptor antagonist [H2RA] or prokinetic [PK] first therapy) versus 'step down' therapy (proton pump inhibitor [PPI] first therapy). The majority decision was for short term 'step up' therapy and investigation if symptoms do not improve or recur. Maintenance therapy should be carried out with the initial therapy that was effective. H2RAs and PKs may suffice for maintenance therapy in milder GERD; however, for severe esophagitis, PPIs should be used.
Surgery: Indications for laparoscopic surgery should be the same as for conventional antireflux operations. NONCARDIAC ANGINA-LIKE CHEST PAIN: After exclusion of nonesophageal causes, the majority decided that eight weeks of therapy with a PPI should be performed, while some suggested work-up before a therapeutic test. In the absence of response or recurrence, esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) and, depending on the circumstances, 24 h ambulatory pH/motility may be indicated. BARRETT'S ESOPHAGUS: Only patients who, in case of future discovery of cancer or dysplasia, are able or willing to undergo therapy should have surveillance. In the absence of dysplasia EGD should be performed every two years, and in the presence of mild dysplasia every three to six months. All agreed that for severe dysplasia, esophagectomy or poor risk patients, esophageal mucosal ablation is indicated. ESTRAESOPHAGEAL COMPLICATONS (EECs): Asthma, chronic cough and posterior laryngitis were considered EECs. Although PPIs may decrease symptoms, improvement alone is not diagnostic of the presence of EEC. Ambulatory pH studies with two pH probes or ambulatory pH/motility may be useful in establishing causation.
Health economics: There are limited data for an economic comparison among the different drugs or between medical and surgical therapy.