There are few data on the role of prokinetic agents as maintenance therapy in moderately severe reflux oesophagitis despite the high relapse rate of this condition after healing.
To determine whether cisapride is more effective than placebo as maintenance therapy after healing of moderate erosive oesophagitis in two respects: first, in preventing symptomatic relapse and preserving quality of life; and, second, in improving oesophageal motor function.
Forty-two patients whose grade II-III oesophagitis had been healed with omeprazole were randomized to receive either cisapride 20 mg nocte or placebo for 6 months. Oesophageal pH monitoring and manometry were performed before starting maintenance therapy and after 4 weeks, and symptomatic status and quality of life were assessed at weeks 0, 4, 13 and 26.
After 4 weeks of maintenance therapy, lower oesophageal sphincter pressure improved in the cisapride group (16.4-21.9 mmHg, P = 0.01) but not in the placebo group (25.5-22.7 mmHg, P = 0.2). Oesophageal pH monitoring showed no significant changes in either group. Sixteen (76%) cisapride patients and 12 (57%) placebo patients withdrew within 4 weeks owing to symptomatic relapse (P = 0.2). After 26 weeks, 21 (100%) cisapride and 17 (81%) placebo patients had relapsed (log-rank analysis of survival time P = 0.07). Quality of life parameters deteriorated in both treatment groups to a similar degree.
Maintenance therapy with cisapride 20 mg nocte improves the lower oesophageal sphincter pressure in patients whose oesophagitis has been healed with omeprazole. However, cisapride is no better than placebo in preventing symptomatic relapse or deterioration in quality of life.