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Step-by-step management of refractory gastresophageal reflux disease

Authors

  • T. Hershcovici,

    1. The Neuroenteric Clinical Research Group, Southern Arizona VA Health Care System
    2. University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson, Arizona, USA
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  • R. Fass

    Corresponding author
    1. The Neuroenteric Clinical Research Group, Southern Arizona VA Health Care System
    2. University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson, Arizona, USA
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Prof. Ronnie Fass, MD, The Neuroenteric Clinical Research Group, Southern Arizona VA Health Care System, GI Section (1-111G-1)3601 S. 6th Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85723-0001, USA. Email: ronnie.fass@va.gov

SUMMARY

Up to a third of the patients who receive proton pump inhibitor (PPI) once daily will demonstrate lack or partial response to treatment. There are various mechanisms that contribute to PPI failure and they include residual acid reflux, weakly acidic and weakly alkaline reflux, esophageal hypersensitivity, and psychological comorbidity, among others. Some of these underlying mechanisms may coincide in the same patient. Evaluation for proper compliance and adequate dosing time of PPIs should be the first management step before ordering invasive diagnostic tests. Doubling the PPI dose or switching to another PPI is the second step of management. Upper endoscopy and pH testing appear to have limited diagnostic value in patients who failed PPI treatment. In contrast, esophageal impedance with pH testing (multichannel intraluminal impedance MII-pH) on therapy appears to provide the most insightful information about the subsequent management of these patients (step 3). In step 4, treatment should be tailored to the specific underlying mechanism of patient's PPI failure. For those who demonstrate weakly acidic or weakly alkaline reflux as the underlying cause of their residual symptoms, transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxation reducers, endoscopic treatment, antireflux surgery and pain modulators should be considered. In those with functional heartburn, pain modulators are the cornerstone of therapy.

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