The relationship between hiatus hernia and reflux esophagitis is well established. However, there are conflicting reports regarding its effect on the development of nonerosive reflux disease (NERD). Our aim was to investigate the prevalence and axial length of hiatus hernia in patients with NERD, compared with patients with reflux esophagitis, Barrett esophagus, and controls.
Axial hernia length of the diaphragmatic hiatus was measured prospectively at endoscopy in controls and patients with typical reflux symptoms occurring at least weekly during the last month relieved by antacids.
A final diagnosis of hiatus hernia was established in 21.2% of 249 controls, 60.4% of 346 patients with NERD, 78.1% of 251 patients with reflux esophagitis, and 88.2% of 17 patients with Barrett esophagus. Patients aged >59 years were most likely to have a hiatus hernia. There was an increased prevalence in patients with NERD as compared with controls (P<0.0001), and decreased prevalence as compared with those with reflux esophagitis and Barrett esophagus (P<0.0001 and 0.02, respectively). Axial length of hiatus hernia >3 cm was found more frequently in patients with reflux esophagitis and Barrett esophagus as compared with patients with NERD (P<0.0001 and 0.0052, respectively). There was no statistical significant difference between controls and patients with NERD regarding the prevalence of hiatus hernia >3 cm (P=0.0904).
A small (<3 cm) hiatus hernia may contribute to the development of NERD, whereas an axial length >3 cm is associated with a more severe disease.
Department of Gastroenterology, Athens Naval Hospital, Athens, Greece
Reprints: Spiros N. Sgouros, MD, PhD, Nafpaktias 5, Agia Paraskevi, 15341, Athens, Greece (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Received for publication May 12, 2006; accepted August 30, 2006