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Proximal oesophagus: the added value in understanding GORD symptoms


Dr Michele Cicala, Via Álvaro del Portillo, 21 - 00128 Rome, Italy.
Tel: +3906225411; fax +39.0622541456; e-mail:


Abstract  Over the past decade, the approach to the understanding of the mechanisms involved in the aetiology of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) symptoms has changed, and growing evidence now supports the concept that visceral hyper-sensitivity to intra-oesophageal stimuli plays a major role. Among the recent advances, one of the more consistent findings is that the contact of the refluxate, either acidic or weakly acidic, with the proximal oesophageal mucosa, is a main determinant of GORD symptoms, particularly in the large majority of patients affected by non-erosive reflux disease. The data reported in the current issue of Neurogastroenterology and Motility by Bredenoord et al., showing only a small proportion of proximal reflux in patients with Barrett’s oesophagus, who are less sensitive to gastro-oesophageal reflux, further support the consistency of this finding in the pathogenesis of symptoms. In the light of these results, we shall look forward, in the management of patients, to approaches aimed at restoring the antireflux barrier, hopefully decreasing the amount of reflux and, in turn, its proximal extent.