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Scand J Gastroenterol. 2011 Feb;46(2):133-41. doi: 10.3109/00365521.2010.521888. Epub 2010 Oct 19.

Epidemiology of symptom-defined gastroesophageal reflux disease and reflux esophagitis: the systematic investigation of gastrointestinal diseases in China (SILC).

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Department of Gastroenterology, Changhai Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.



Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is thought to be less prevalent in China than in Western countries. However, essential population-based endoscopy data are lacking for this country.


As part of a wider study, 3600 individuals selected randomly from the Shanghai region were asked to undergo endoscopy. Participants completed a general information questionnaire and a Chinese version of the Reflux Disease Questionnaire. When sufficient numbers were available, associations were assessed using multiple logistic regression or the Wilcoxon rank-sum test.


Of 3153 (87.6%) individuals who completed the survey, 1030 (32.7%) agreed to endoscopy and 1029 endoscopies were suitable for analysis. Symptom-defined GERD was more prevalent in the endoscopy group (4.7%) than in the non-endoscopy group (1.7%). Prevalence estimates were 6.4% for reflux esophagitis, 1.8% for endoscopically suspected esophageal metaplasia and 0.7% for hiatus hernia. Reflux esophagitis was more prevalent in patients with symptom-defined GERD than in those without (12.5% [6/48] vs. 6.1% [60/981]), and was significantly associated with reflux symptoms of any frequency or severity (OR = 2.10, 95% CI 1.13-3.89) and with negative Helicobacter pylori infection (OR = 0.44, 95% CI 0.25-0.80). Only 28.8% of participants with reflux esophagitis had heartburn and/or regurgitation symptoms. Epigastric burning was significantly more severe and frequent in participants with reflux esophagitis than in those without (p = 0.05).


Reflux esophagitis is less prevalent in China than reported in Western countries. Further work is needed to establish why reflux esophagitis appears less symptomatic in China than in Western countries.

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