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Outcome for Patients With Pathological Esophageal Acid Exposure After Laparoscopic Fundoplication

Oor, Jelmer, E., MD*,†; Nieuwenhuijs, Vincent, B., MD, PhD; Devitt, Peter, G., MS, FRCS, FRACS§; Hazebroek, Eric, J., MD, PhD; Watson, David, I., MD, PhD, FRACS*

doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000002276

Objective: The aim of the current study was to assess symptomatic outcome and need for surgical reintervention for patients identified with pathological esophageal acid exposure by routine postoperative 24-hour pH-monitoring.

Background: Although laparoscopic fundoplication is associated with excellent short- and midterm results, recurrent symptoms pose an important challenge. Postoperative pH-monitoring is considered the “gold standard” for diagnosing recurrent GERD and frequently used for routine postoperative follow up.

Methods: Analysis of prospectively collected data from patients who underwent laparoscopic fundoplication between April 1994 and June 2015 and underwent routine postoperative 24-hour pH-monitoring was performed. Symptomatic outcome and need for surgical reintervention up to 5 years was compared between patients with pathological and physiological postoperative esophageal acid exposure. Primary endpoints were heartburn score and need for surgical reintervention for recurrent reflux.

Results: A total of 309 patients in whom routine postoperative 24-hour pH-monitoring was performed were included. Pathological acid exposure was present in 33 patients (11%) compared with 276 patients (89%) with physiological acid exposure. During 5-year follow up, there were no differences in heartburn, dysphagia, or satisfaction scores. Eighteen percent of all patients with abnormal postoperative pH-studies underwent redo fundoplication during 5-year follow up.

Conclusions: Pathological acid exposure demonstrated by routine postoperative pH-monitoring was not associated with worse symptomatic outcome in terms of reflux control and satisfaction. A possible explanation for this finding is that laparoscopic fundoplication reduces the patients’ ability to perceive reflux. This underlines the importance of assessing the association between symptomatic outcome and esophageal function tests in determining outcome of antireflux surgery.

*Department of Surgery, Flinders University, Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, South Australia, Australia

St. Antonius Hospital Antonius Hospital, Department of Surgery, Nieuwegein, the Netherlands

Isala, Department of Surgery, Zwolle, the Netherlands

§Discipline of Surgery, University of Adelaide, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.

Reprints: David I. Watson, MD, PhD, FRACS, Department of Surgery, Flinders University, Room 3D211, Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, South Australia 5042, Australia. E-mail:

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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