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J Gastrointest Surg. 2001 Mar-Apr;5(2):183-90; discussion 190-1.

Pharyngeal pH monitoring in 222 patients with suspected laryngeal reflux.

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Swallowing Center, Department of Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.


To determine the existence of and characterize gastroesophagopharyngeal reflux in patients with symptoms of airway irritation, we monitored pharyngeal pH over a 24-hour period in 222 consecutive patients. Pharyngeal reflux was defined as a drop in pH to less than 4 at the pharyngeal sensor, which occurred simultaneously with acidification of the distal esophagus. Patients were divided into two groups: those with pharyngeal reflux (PR+) and those without (PR-). The Mann-Whitney U test and Student's t test were used to assess intergroup comparisons. Episodes of pharyngeal reflux (range 1 to 36, average 4.4) were identified in 90 PR+ patients (40%). No pharyngeal reflux was identified in the remaining 132 patients (PR-). Episodes of pharyngeal reflux were rapidly cleared (average duration 1.5 minutes), and occurred while in the upright position in 77 (86%) of 90 patients and while in the supine position in 11 (12%) of 90 patients. Twenty-three patients (25%) experienced symptoms in association with an episode of pharyngeal reflux. In the distal esophagus, the percentage of time the pH was below 4 during the upright position and the total percentage of time the pH was below 4 were greater in PR+ patients (6.4% and 5.8%, respectively) when compared to PR- patients (2.6% and 2.6%, respectively). Laryngoscopic findings did not distinguish PR+ from PR- patients. Pharyngeal reflux occurs most commonly in the upright position and can be identified in more than 40% of patients thought to have acid-induced laryngeal symptoms. Even though these episodes are short lived and rapidly cleared, symptoms occur concomitantly in 25% of patients with proven pharyngeal reflux. Patients with laryngeal symptoms and documented pharyngeal reflux have greater amounts of esophageal reflux when compared to patients with laryngeal symptoms and no demonstrable pharyngeal reflux.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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