Gastroesophageal reflux disease poorly responsive to single-dose proton pump inhibitors in patients without Barrett's esophagus: acid reflux, bile reflux, or both?

J Tack, G Koek, I Demedts, D Sifrim, J Janssens
American Journal of Gastroenterology 2004, 99 (6): 981-8

OBJECTIVES: Studies using ambulatory pH and esophageal bile reflux monitoring (Bilitec) have shown that both acid reflux and duodeno-gastro-esophageal reflux (DGER) frequently occur in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). A subset of patients with GERD has persistent reflux symptoms in spite of standard doses of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of acid and DGER in patients with reflux disease poorly responsive to PPIs.

METHODS: Sixty-five patients (32 men, 44 +/- 2 yr) without Barrett's esophagus and with persistent heartburn or regurgitation during standard PPI doses were studied. They underwent upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and simultaneous 24-h ambulatory pH and Bilitec monitoring while PPIs were continued.

RESULTS: Thirty-three patients (51%) had persistent esophagitis. Seven patients (11%) had only pathological acid exposure, 25 (38%) had only pathological DGER exposure, and 17 (26%) had pathological exposure to both acid and DGER. Acid exposure under PPI was positive in only 37%, but adding Bilitec increased the diagnoses of persistent reflux to 75%. Patients with persistent esophagitis had similar acid exposure, but significantly higher DGER exposure than those without esophagitis. The highest prevalence of esophagitis was found in patients with pathological exposure to both acid and DGER; symptoms did not differ according to the type of reflux.

CONCLUSIONS: Combined pH and Bilitec monitoring is superior to pH monitoring alone in demonstrating ongoing pathological reflux in patients with medically poorly responsive reflux disease.

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