Background: Open or laparoscopic surgery for gastroesophageal reflux disease gives longterm freedom from symptoms in 83-100% of cases but has a certain percentage of complications. This study was undertaken to evaluate the early and late complication rates after primary or repeat antireflux operations.
Study design: The records of all patients who underwent surgery for gastroesophageal reflux disease during a 32-year period at a university teaching hospital were reviewed retrospectively. Records for 793 adults (448 men and 345 women) aged 16-85 years (mean, 51) were retrieved for calculation of complication rates and statistical analysis.
Results: A total of 827 operations were performed: 793 primary and 41 for recurrent disease (2 patients were each reoperated on twice). There were 49 laparoscopic operations. Only two patients died (mortality, 0.3%), both after open operation. Morbidity was 24% after open surgery and 14% after laparoscopic operation. The total (early and late) complication rate was higher after reoperations than that after open or laparoscopic procedures. The overall complication rate in the open operations was similar in the first and the third decade of the study, namely, 24.6% and 26.1%, respectively.
Conclusions: Surgical treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease carries very low mortality when performed in a specialized unit. The main causes of morbidity after open operation are infectious complications. The incidence of complications is substantially lower after laparoscopic surgery than after open operation. Reoperation is seldom required, but it carries higher morbidity than the primary operations.