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World J Gastrointest Surg. 2009 Nov 30;1(1):8-10. doi: 10.4240/wjgs.v1.i1.8.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease and the airway-essentials for the surgeon.

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  • 1Vic Velanovich, Division of General Surgery, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI 48202, United States.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) has many protean manifestations. Some of the most vexing have to do with the airway. GERD affects the tracheobronchial tree directly, leading to aspiration pneumonia and asthma, or exacerbating existing pulmonary disease, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In addition to the respiratory manifestation of GERD, there are unique pharyngeal and laryngeal manifestations. These include voice hoarseness, throat-clearing, chronic cough, globus, and "post-nasal drip". Linking these symptoms to GERD is challenging and frequently the diagnosis is that of exclusion. Despite proton pump inhibitor therapy being the mainstay of treatment, with anti-reflux surgery being reserved for intractable cases, there is no definitive evidence of the superiority of either.


Aspiration pneumonia; Chronic cough; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Gastroesophageal reflux disease; Laryngopharyngeal reflux; Reflux laryngitis; Reflux-induced asthma

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