Results of short-and long-term medical treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).Langenbecks Arch Surg. 2000 Aug; 385(5):317-23.LA
Symptomatic esophageal reflux affects a large number of individuals. Many find relief by avoiding trigger substances such as coffee or sweets; in other cases, lifestyle modifications do not suffice and drug treatment is necessary for symptom control. An adequate classification of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is currently lacking; esophagitis can be graded according to Savary and Miller or the more recent metaplasia ulcer stricture erosions (MUSE) classification.
The control of symptoms should be achieved in all patients: in addition, if esophagitis is present, the healing of erosions/ulcers as well as the prevention of further complications, such as strictures, hemorrhage, Barrett's esophagus or ulceration, must be accomplished. SHORT-TERM TREATMENT: In the case of rare symptoms, control might be achieved by lifestyle modifications and by antacids or mucosal protectants taken on demand. In the case of continuous symptoms or signs of esophagitis, effective inhibition of gastric acid secretion with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) is necessary in many patients.
PREVENTION OF RELAPSE
After discontinuation of medical therapy, almost all patients with esophagitis will experience a relapse within 30 weeks. The regimen offering the highest rate of remission in these patients is the one that induced remission in the first place. Reduction of PPI dose or a switch to H2 receptor antagonists increases the rate of relapse. RISKS OF LONG-TERM TREATMENT: Long-term acid suppressive therapy, as with the use of PPIs, may lead to hypergastrinemia, a situation in which the endocrine cells of the stomach may proliferate. In the presence of Helicobacter pylori infection, PPIs are more efficient in healing esophagitis; however, the occurrence of gastric mucosal atrophy, a potentially pre-cancerous condition, has been described. To date, however, no case of gastric cancer or endocrine neoplasia associated with PPI treatment has been documented; gastric mucosal atrophy is more likely to result from H. pylori infection and gastric carcinoid formation needs a genetic predisposition, such as multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) type I.
Most cases of GERD can be effectively treated by non-surgical measures; in patients presenting with warning symptoms or persistent heartburn, endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract is mandatory. Long-term use of PPIs seems to be a safe and efficient treatment for GERD. For the prevention of relapse, similar doses are needed as for the induction of remission in reflux esophagitis.