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Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2014 Mar;96(2):95-100. doi: 10.1308/003588414X13824511649256.

Pain after laparoscopic antireflux surgery.

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Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, UK.



The benefits of antireflux surgery are well established. Laparoscopic techniques have been shown to be generally safe and effective. The aim of this paper was to review the subject of pain following laparoscopic antireflux surgery.


A systematic review of the literature was conducted using the PubMed database to identify all studies reporting pain after laparoscopic antireflux surgery. Publications were included for the main analysis if they contained at least 30 patients. Operations in children, Collis gastroplasty procedures, endoluminal fundoplication and surgery for paraoesophageal hernias were excluded. The frequency of postoperative pain was calculated and the causes/management were reviewed. An algorithm for the investigation of patients with pain following laparoscopic fundoplication was constructed.


A total of 17 studies were included in the main analysis. Abdominal pain and chest pain following laparoscopic fundoplication were reported in 24.0% and 19.5% of patients respectively. Pain was mild or moderate in the majority and severe in 4%. Frequency of pain was not associated with operation type. The authors include their experience in managing patients with persistent, severe epigastric pain following laparoscopic anterior fundoplication.


Pain following laparoscopic antireflux surgery occurs in over 20% of patients. Some have an obvious complication or a diagnosis made through routine investigation. Most have mild to moderate pain with minimal effect on quality of life. In a smaller proportion of patients, pain is severe, persistent and can be disabling. In this group, diagnosis is more difficult but systematic investigation can be rewarding, and can enable appropriate and successful treatment.

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