Duodenal and gastric contents do reflux into the oesophagus and acid alone certainly causes oesophageal damage which will be worsened by pepsin. In the patient who has undergone gastrectomy duodenal secretions may also be harmful. There is evidence that when the two mix there may be a toxic synergism, leading to mucosal disruption and intracellular damage to oesophageal cells which produces the clinical picture of reflux oesophagitis, with or without symptoms. Clear evidence of the toxicity of duodenal refluxate in humans is lacking, but the ability to measure bile and acid reflux continuously, together with a method of detecting oesophageal damage at a cellular level should help to solve this long debated problem.
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