Disease progression in gastro-oesophageal reflux disease as determined by repeat oesophageal pH monitoring and endoscopy 3 to 4.5 years after diagnosis.Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 1997; 9(12):1161-7EJ
Reflux oesophagitis may progress to complications such as Barrett's mucosa and stricture formation. However, few studies have assessed long-term disease progression in oesophagitis patients and fewer still have considered disease progression in the significant proportion of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) patients who do not have oesophagitis at diagnosis. The aim of this study was to reassess GORD patients 3 to 4 years after initial diagnosis and determine whether or not disease progression had occurred.
Prospective follow-up of 101 GORD patients at least 32 months after initial assessment with oesophageal pH monitoring and upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. Patients were invited to complete a symptomatic questionnaire and undergo repeat investigation with the same techniques.
Seventy-seven (76%) patients responded (mean follow-up period 39 months, range 32-54 months) of whom 28 initially had oesophagitis (group A), 17 had normal endoscopy but abnormal pH monitoring (group B) and 32 had normal investigations but typical reflux symptoms (group C). At the time of follow-up, 57 (74%) patients either had frequent heartburn or were taking daily acid suppression therapy. Fifty-two (68%) responders had at least one repeat investigation: 44 (57%) had repeat pH monitoring; 43 (56%) had repeat endoscopy. Three (11% of the 28 responders) group A patients had developed Barrett's mucosa, 4 (24% of responders) group B patients had developed oesophagitis and 10 (31% of responders) group C patients had developed abnormal pH monitoring (4), oesophagitis (4) or both (2).
Three-quarters of GORD patients still have troublesome symptoms at least 3 years after diagnosis and a significant proportion show endoscopic progression of the condition's severity.