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Arq Gastroenterol. 2007 Apr-Jun;44(2):145-50.

Gastroesophageal reflux in cirrhotic patients with esophageal varices without endoscopic treatment.

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Divisions of Gastroenterology, Clementino Fraga Filho University Hospital, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil.



Portal hypertension in patients with liver cirrhosis causes manifestations such as esophageal varices, ascites and edema. Some studies have been conducted about the role of esophageal varices in the development of esophageal motor disorders and abnormal gastroesophageal reflux in these patients. Ascites could be a factor promoting gastroesophageal reflux and it has been questioned whether reflux would favor the rupture of varices. However there are a few studies using ambulatory esophageal pH recording in the evaluation of these patients.


Evaluate gastroesophageal reflux by pH recording in cirrhotic patients with esophageal varices and possible predictors.


Fifty one patients (28 men, 23 women, mean age of 54 years) with liver cirrhosis, diagnosed by clinical, laboratorial, image and histological findings were prospectively evaluated. All patients had esophageal varices confirmed by endoscopy and were submitted to a questionnaire about typical gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms (heartburn and or acid regurgitation). pH recording was performed with the probe placed 5 cm above the superior lower esophageal sphincter limit, as determined by manometry. Abnormal reflux (% total time with pH < 4 >4.5%) was related to the size of varices, congestive gastropathy, ascites, severity of cirrhosis and typical gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms.


The caliber of the varices was considered to be small in 30 patients (59%), medium in 17 (33%) and large in 4 (8%), 21 (41%) congestive gastropathy. Ascites was observed in 17 (33%), 32 patients (63%) were classified as Child-Pugh A, 17 (33%) Child-Pugh B and 2 (4%) Child-Pugh C. Twenty seven patients (53%) presented with typical gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms. Abnormal reflux at pH recording was found in 19 patients (37%). One of them presented with erosive esophagitis at endoscopy. There was no relation between ascites, variceal size, congestive gastropathy and Child-Pugh score and abnormal reflux. There was a correlation between typical gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms and abnormal reflux.


Abnormal gastroesophageal reflux was found in 37% of the patients with hepatic cirrhosis and esophageal varices. Only typical gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms predicted these findings.

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