BACKGROUND: Reflux oesophagitis is considered a multifactorial disease, but the respective roles of the main factors involved in its pathophysiology have not been clearly established. AIMS: To attempt to assign these roles by means of a multivariate logistic regression analysis of the main parameters associated with reflux oesophagitis. PATIENTS: Eighty seven patients with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease were studied: 41 without oesophagitis and 46 with reflux oesophagitis grade 1 to 3. METHODS: (1) Monovariate comparison of patients' characteristics and of parameters derived from in hospital 24 hour oesophageal pH monitoring, oesophageal manometry, double isotope gastric emptying studies, and basal and pentagastrin stimulated gastric acid and pepsin output determinations, between patients with and without oesophagitis. (2) Multivariate logistic regression analysis including the parameters significant in the monovariate analysis. RESULTS: Among the 16 significant parameters from monovariate analysis, three significant independent parameters were identified by multivariate logistic regression analysis: number of refluxes lasting more than five minutes, reflecting oesophageal acid clearance (p = 0.002); basal lower oesophageal sphincter pressure (p = 0.008); and peak acid output (p = 0.012). These three parameters were not correlated with each other. The multivariate model was highly discriminant (correct classification of 81.3% of the cases (95% confidence intervals 0.723, 0.903). Risk for oesophagitis increased as a function of the tercile threshold values of the three parameters. Odds ratios of the three parameters for oesophagitis risk were similar, regardless of whether they were calculated when the patients were compared as a function of oesophagitis grade or the presence or absence of oesophagitis. CONCLUSIONS: This multivariate approach adds evidence that impaired oesophageal acid clearance and hypotonic lower oesophageal sphincter are the two major independent pathophysiological factors of oesophagitis, but also showed that the acid secretion level is an independent pathophysiological factor.
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