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Can J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014 Jun;28(6):335-41. Epub 2014 Apr 9.

Gastroesophageal reflux symptoms not responding to proton pump inhibitor: GERD, NERD, NARD, esophageal hypersensitivity or dyspepsia?


Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is a common gastrointestinal process that can generate symptoms of heartburn and chest pain. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are the gold standard for the treatment of GER; however, a substantial group of GER patients fail to respond to PPIs. In the past, it was believed that acid reflux into the esophagus causes all, or at least the majority, of symptoms attributed to GER, with both erosive esophagitis and nonerosive outcomes. However, with modern testing techniques it has been shown that, in addition to acid reflux, the reflux of nonacid gastric and duodenal contents into the esophagus may also induce GER symptoms. It remains unknown how weakly acidic or alkaline refluxate with a pH similar to a normal diet induces GER symptoms. Esophageal hypersensitivity or functional dyspepsia with superimposed heartburn may be other mechanisms of symptom generation, often completely unrelated to GER. Detailed studies investigating the pathophysiology of esophageal hypersensitivity are not conclusive, and definitions of the various disease states may overlap and are often confusing. The authors aim to clarify the pathophysiology, definition, diagnostic techniques and medical treatment of patients with heartburn symptoms who fail PPI therapy.

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