Objective: To evaluate prospectively the outcome of laparoscopic fundoplication in a large cohort of patients with typical symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux.
Summary background data: The development of laparoscopic fundoplication over the past several years has resulted in renewed interest in the surgical treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Methods: One hundred patients with typical symptoms of GERD were studied. The study was limited to patients with positive 24-hour pH studies and "typical" symptoms of GERD. Laparoscopic fundoplication was performed when clinical assessment suggested adequate esophageal motility and length. Outcome measures included assessment of the relief of the primary symptom responsible for surgery; the patient's and the physician's evaluation of outcome; quality of life evaluation; repeated upper endoscopy in 30 patients with presurgical esophagitis; and postsurgical physiologic studies in 28 unselected patients, consisting of 24-hour esophageal pH and lower esophageal sphincter manometry.
Results: Relief of the primary symptom responsible for surgery was achieved in 96% of patients at a mean follow-up of 21 months. Seventy-one patients were asymptomatic, 24 had minor gastrointestinal symptoms not requiring medical therapy, 3 had gastrointestinal symptoms requiring medical therapy, and 2 were worsened by the procedure. Eighty-three patients considered themselves cured, 11 were improved, and 1 was worse. Occasional difficulty swallowing not present before surgery occurred in 7 patients at 3 months, and decreased to 2 patients by 12 months after surgery. There were no deaths. Clinically significant complications occurred in four patients. Median hospital stay was 3 days, decreasing from 6.3 in the first 10 patients to 2.3 in the last 10 patients. Endoscopic esophagitis healed in 28 of 30 patients who had presurgical esophagitis and returned for follow-up endoscopy. Twenty-four-hour esophageal acid exposure had returned to normal in 26 of 28 patients studied after surgery. Lower esophageal sphincter pressures had also returned to normal in all patients, increasing from a median of 5.1 mmHg to 14.9 mmHg.
Conclusions: Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication provides an excellent symptomatic and physiologic outcome in patients with proven gastroesophageal reflux and "typical" symptoms. This can be achieved with a hospital stay of 48 hours and a low incidence of postsurgical complications.