Forty three patients with reflux oesophagitis were studied to investigate the effect of healing on oesophageal function. All patients underwent oesophageal manometry and transit studies before and after complete healing of oesophagitis. Oesophagitis was treated with omeprazole 40 mg/day for a median duration of 12 weeks. Twenty three patients also had an acid clearance test before and after healing. Thirty eight of the 43 patients had 24 hour oesophageal pH monitoring before treatment and this was repeated after healing (while on omeprazole) in 31 of them. Thirty four volunteers served as controls. All volunteers underwent manometry, 33 had oesophageal transit studies, and 23 had acid clearance test. Patients had significantly reduced lower oesophageal sphincter pressures and distal and middle oesophageal amplitudes, longer durations of contraction, and slower velocity of propagation than the controls (16.5 v 22.5 mm Hg; 52 v 92 mm Hg; 46 v 79 mm Hg; 3.1 v 2.7 seconds; and 3.3 v 4.1 cm/second respectively with the corresponding p values = 0.017; 0.0001; 0.0001; 0.017; and 0.006). Patients had significantly longer transit times (9 v 7 and 17 v 11 seconds: p = 0.027 and 0.002 for erect and supine postures respectively). They also had longer acid clearance times (350 v 288 and 536 v 405 seconds: p = 0.044 and 0.016 for sitting and supine postures respectively). There was no significant change in any of the indices of oesophageal function after healing of oesophagitis (lower oesophageal sphincter pressure = 16.5 v 20; distal amplitude = 52 v 60; middle amplitude = 46 v 49; duration of contraction = 3.1 v 3.1; velocity = 3.3 v 3.3; erect transit time = 9 v 9; supine transit time = 17 v 24; acid clearance test (sitting) = 350 v 371; acid clearance test (supine) = 536 v 645). These results indicate that oesophageal motor dysfunction in reflux oesophagitis is a primary phenomenon.
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