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Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg. 2012 Jun;14(6):828-33. doi: 10.1093/icvts/ivr140. Epub 2012 Mar 5.

Is an intra-oesophageal bougie of use during Nissen fundoplication?

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Department of Biosurgery and Surgical Technology, Imperial College London, St Mary's Hospital, London, UK.


A best-evidence topic was written according to a structured protocol. The question addressed was whether the use of an intra-oesophageal bougie during Nissen fundoplication reduces post-operative dysphagia. A total of 34 papers were found using the reported searches of which eight represented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. The authors, date, journal, study type, population, main outcome measures and results are tabulated. The popularity of bougie placement is likely to have been encouraged by an early study reported in this article in 1986 associating the use of a larger bougie with reduction of postoperative dysphagia. A more recent randomized study in 2000 also associated the use of bougie with significantly less long-term and severe dysphagia. Four retrospective studies showed no advantage from the use of a bougie, and the potential benefit are countered by the largest published series in the literature reporting the incidence of oesophageal perforation owing to bougie placement at 0.8%. Despite this risk, a survey of 393 German surgeons in 2005 revealed that 46% use a bougie. In summary, we conclude that there is some evidence to suggest that both the presence and size of bougie may have an impact on dysphagia. The evidence is not substantial enough to recommend change in clinical practice and its use must be weighed against the risk of oesophageal injury which patients should be consented for. These conclusions are in accordance with the 2010 Guidelines for Surgical Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux disease by the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons who give a Grade B recommendation for the placement of an oesophageal dilator. It is important that future studies are adequately powered and designed to measure longitudinal outcomes such as dysphagia severity with validated assessment tools at appropriate follow-up points. The measurement and usefulness of health-related quality of life needs to be investigated further in this patient population.

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