Whether the oesophageal motor response to reflux, as recorded over 24 hours, is impaired in patients with reflux oesophagitis was investigated. Twenty three patients with oesophagitis (Savary-Miller grades I-IV) and 23 control subjects matched for age and sex underwent 24 hour ambulatory pH and pressure monitoring. All contractions occurring in the 2 minute period after the onset of each reflux episode were analysed automatically using dedicated computer algorithms. A total of 2085 reflux episodes occurred--1513 in patients and 572 in controls. Oesophageal acid exposure was greater (p < 0.01) in patients than in controls (mean (SEM) % time pH < 4 13.3 (1.7) and 5.3 (0.9)%, respectively). The mean duration of the supine reflux episodes was longer (p < 0.01) in patients (11.2 (2.8) minutes) than in controls (5.1 (1.8) minutes). In the upright period, no significant differences in the motor response to reflux were found. In the supine period, the patients showed a higher number of reflux induced contractions (4.40 (0.61) v 1.62 (0.31), p < 0.01), a higher contraction amplitude (4.55 (0.42) v 2.99 (0.71) kPa, p < 0.02) and longer contractions (1.86 (0.19) v 1.32 (0.29) seconds, p < 0.05). The percentages of peristaltic and simultaneous contractions that occurred in response to supine reflux did not differ between the two groups. In patients with reflux oesophagitis the motor response of the oesophagus to reflux is not impaired. During the supine period the response is even stronger than in healthy controls.
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