Background & aims: Whether inflammation of the cardia indicates gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and/or is a manifestation of pangastritis caused by Helicobacter pylori infection is unknown. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between cardia inflammation, H. pylori infection, and cardia intestinal metaplasia in patients with and without GERD.
Methods: Patients with GERD were compared with controls undergoing endoscopy for a variety of other conditions. Endoscopic biopsy specimens from the distal esophagus and cardia, fundus, and antrum were evaluated for inflammation, H. pylori infection, and intestinal metaplasia.
Results: Neither the prevalence of H. pylori infection (controls, 48%; GERD, 41%) nor cardia inflammation (controls, 41%; GERD, 40%) differed between groups. All 11 controls and 22 of 23 patients with GERD (96%) and cardia inflammation had H. pylori infection. Esophagitis was more common among GERD patients (33%) than controls (7%; P = 0.01). Cardia intestinal metaplasia was more common among controls (22%) than GERD patients (3%; P = 0.01); all had cardia inflammation, 7 had H. pylori infection, and 6 had metaplasia elsewhere in the stomach.
Conclusions: The prevalence of cardia inflammation is similar in patients with and without GERD and is associated with H. pylori infection (P < 0.001). Cardia intestinal metaplasia is associated with H. pylori-related cardia inflammation (P = 0.01) and intestinal metaplasia elsewhere in the stomach, indicating that it is distinct from Barrett's esophagus.