Several studies, using pH monitoring with event markers, have identified patients with normal oesophageal exposure to acid despite an apparent relation between symptoms and reflux episodes. In this series of 771 consecutive patients referred for 24 hour oesophageal pH monitoring, a probability calculation was used to evaluate the relation between symptoms and reflux episodes. Oesophageal exposure to acid was normal in 462 of 771 recordings (59.9%); despite this, 70.8% (327 of 462) of these patients used at least once the event marker. In 96 patients (12.5% of total patients) with normal oesophageal exposure to acid, there was a statistically significant association between symptoms and reflux episodes. The symptom cluster of such patients was similar to that usually seen in patients with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, but symptoms like belching, bloating, and nausea were common thus overlapping with the symptom pattern of functional dyspepsia. In these patients both the duration and the minimum pH of reflux episodes (either symptom related or asymptomatic) were significantly shorter and higher, respectively, when compared with those of patients with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. These results are consistent with the idea that oesophageal hypersensitivity to acid is the underlying pathophysiological feature of this syndrome.
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