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Keywords:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease;
  • gastroesophageal reflux;
  • laryngopharyngeal reflux;
  • esophagoscopy;
  • esophagitis;
  • Barrett's metaplasia

Abstract

Objective To report the prevalence of esophagitis in patients with pH-documented laryngopharyngeal reflux.

Study Design Prospective study of 58 consecutive patients with documented laryngopharyngeal reflux, all of whom underwent transnasal esophagoscopy as part of their reflux evaluations.

Methods All patients with a diagnosis of laryngopharyngeal reflux confirmed by abnormal pharyngeal pH monitoring over a 5-month period were included, and all subjects completed a self-administered reflux symptom index and underwent transnasal esophagoscopy with directed biopsy.

Results Of the 58 study patients with pH-documented laryngopharyngeal reflux, the mean age was 49 years (± 13 y), and 53% (31 of 58) were women. Of the study group, 40% (23 of 58) had heartburn and 48% (28 of 58) had abnormal esophageal reflux (by pH monitoring criteria); by transnasal esophagoscopy with biopsy, 12% (7 of 58) had esophagitis and another 7% (4 of 58) had Barrett's metaplasia. Thus, 60% of the study cohort had no heartburn, and 81% (47 of 58) had normal esophageal epithelium (i.e., no esophagitis or Barrett's metaplasia).

Conclusions In the present series of patients with documented laryngopharyngeal reflux the prevalence of esophagitis and Barrett's metaplasia was only 19%. These data confirm the clinical impression that the patterns, mechanisms, and manifestations of laryngopharyngeal reflux differ from those of classic gastroesophageal reflux disease. Unlike gastroesophageal reflux disease, patients with laryngopharyngeal reflux uncommonly have esophagitis. Thus, although esophagoscopy may be an excellent method for screening the esophagus, it is not the method of choice for diagnosing laryngopharyngeal reflux.