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Gut. 1996 Apr;38(4):481-6.

Natural history of reflux oesophagitis: a 10 year follow up of its effect on patient symptomatology and quality of life.

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Department of Medicine, Queen's University of Belfast.



Although oesophagitis is the most common diagnosis made at upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, data on the longterm outcome of affected patients are sparse.


This study assessed the level of reflux symptoms, quality of life, drug consumption, and complications in patients at least 10 years after diagnosis of oesophagitis at one centre.


One hundred and fifty two patients with typical reflux symptoms and a first time diagnosis by endoscopy of grade I-III oesophagitis between 1981 and 1984, were followed up using a postal questionnaire and telephone interview.


Eighteen of 152 patients had died, 33 failed to respond, and 101 replied (mean follow up 11 years, range 121-160 months). Over 70% of patients still had heartburn at least daily (32%) or weekly (19%) or required daily acid suppression treatment (20%). Two patients (2%) had developed oesophageal strictures and one had Barrett's oesophagus. Two of eight quality of life scores (physical function and social function) measured by the Short Form-36 were significantly lower than Northern Ireland population scores.


Nearly three quarters of patients previously diagnosed as having oesophagitis still had significant morbidity related to gastro-oesophageal reflux disease more than 10 years after diagnosis. Some quality of life scores were significantly lower than those of the general population.

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