Control of acid reflux is the main objective of treatment for Barrett's oesophagus. However, as these patients have a reduced sensitivity to acid reflux, disappearance of symptoms may not correlate with efficient control of acid reflux. The aim of this study was to determine in a group of patients with Barrett's oesophagus whether treatment with proton pump inhibitors suppressed pathological acid reflux once the symptoms of reflux had been controlled and the associated inflammatory lesions cured.
Eighteen consecutive patients with Barrett's oesophagus were studied, all of whom presented with heartburn. Twenty-four-hour oesophageal pH monitoring before treatment showed pathological acid reflux in all cases: median percentage of total time with pH less than 4, 22 (range 8-52) per cent. All patients received proton pump inhibitors (dose 20-60 mg/day) until symptoms were controlled.
While on therapy, pH was reduced (median percentage of total time with pH less than 4, 3 versus 22 per cent; P < 0.001). However, three patients had persistent pathological rates of acid reflux.
Disappearance of symptoms is not a good indicator of control of pathological acid reflux in patients with Barrett's oesophagus. Twenty-four-hour pH monitoring should be performed for proper adjustment of the dose of medication.