Introduction The association between gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) and various respiratory disorders including cystic fibrosis (CF) is widely acknowledged. Although the exact nature of this relationship is uncertain, it is thought that reflux aspiration is a contributing factor in lung dysfunction in these patients.
Patients with GOR typically report symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, and occasionally atypical symptoms such as cough. It has been hinted that GOR in CF patients may be “silent” making detection and treatment often difficult. We piloted a cross-sectional survey to gain a better understanding of the perception of GOR and its impact on lung function.
Methods Consenting patients completed two validated questionnaires regarding GOR symptoms which were scored and ranked (Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Symptom Questionnaire and Reflux Symptom Index). Patients were stratified by score and divided into two pilot groups; SGOR (symptomatic-highest scores) and AGOR (asymptomatic-lowest scores). Both groups underwent 24-h multiple intraluminal impedance/pH metry (MII) and high-resolution manometry (HRM) for positioning of MII probe. MII studies were assessed for the number of GOR events, proximal reflux events (PREs), and total proximal bolus exposure (TPBE). Patients remained on all current medication including PPIs. Clinical data were collected and compared retrospectively including most recent lung function results (FEV1).
Result 53/110 patients completed questionnaires and 10 from each group were invited to undergo investigation—11 were completed successfully (age 18–55 years; four male, seven female; seven SGOR, four AGOR). There was little difference in the mean number of events between the groups (range 16–75, mean—SGOR 38, AGOR 42; (normal on PPI=48, off PPI=73)). There was no correlation between symptom scores (SS) and number of GOR events but there was a moderate negative correlation between the number of GOR events/FEV1. There was no significant difference in the mean number of PREs between the groups (range 1–31; mean SGOR=11, AGOR=22). TPBE ranged from 0.2–342 s. No correlation was shown between; number of PREs/SS, number of PREs/FEV1 and TPBE/FEV1.
Conclusion This small pilot study indicated that CF patients demonstrate impaired awareness of GOR and supports the theory that GOR is associated with poorer lung function. While there was no significant difference in the number of PREs between the groups, levels were higher in the AGOR group. This suggests that CF patients have poor perception of proximal reflux, which could increase the likelihood of aspiration. Based on these findings we aim to continue the survey to gain a more comprehensive assessment of the perception of GOR in adults with CF.
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