To investigate whether gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) with mild to moderate erosive esophagitis (ERD) is a more severe disease regarding the amount of acid reflux, motor abnormalities, and the presence/absence of hiatus hernia than non-erosive reflux disease (NERD).
The study comprised a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data on 313 consecutive subjects referred for endoscopy, pH-metry, and esophageal manometry. The patients were divided into four groups: Group I (n=92), subjects without GERD with normal pH-metry, without esophagitis and without reflux symptoms; Group II (n=111), patients with NERD (no esophagitis, abnormal pH-metry); Group III (n=77), patients with mild to moderate ERD (LA A, B; abnormal pH-metry); Group IV (n=33), patients with severe or complicated esophagitis (LA C, D; Barrett's esophagus). All data are expressed as medians with 5th-95th percentiles.
No difference was found in the amount of acid reflux between patients with mild to moderate ERD and those with NERD. The DeMeester score was 34.5 (17-105) in NERD patients and 31.6 (15-102) in ERD patients. No significant differences were found between NERD and ERD patients regarding lower esophageal sphincter (LES) basal pressure (11.6 mmHg; 3-25 in NERD versus 10.7 mmHg; 3-22 in ERD). Similar proportions of patients with NERD and ERD had low LES basal pressure (20.7% in NERD versus 24.7% in ERD; NS) and hiatus hernia (44% and 56%; NS). A relatively high proportion of patients without GERD (Group I) had ineffective esophageal motility (39%) and hiatus hernia (30%).
No difference was found between NERD and mild to moderate ERD in terms of acid exposure time and esophageal motor abnormalities. To a certain extent, ERD is a "more complicated" form of the disease. Host factors related to a particular patient (e.g. mucosal defense, genetics, acid clearance) might be responsible for the development of esophagitis.