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Extraesophageal pediatric reflux: 24-hour double-probe pH monitoring of 222 children.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.


Although extraesophageal gastric reflux has been implicated as a cause of many pediatric airway and respiratory diseases, its prevalence in these conditions remains unknown due to the relative lack of sensitivity and/or specificity of traditional reflux testing methods. A prospective study of 222 children (ages 1 day to 16 years) was performed with 24-hour double-probe (simultaneous esophageal and pharyngeal) pH monitoring. Seventy-six percent (168/222) of the study population had abnormal findings in either one or both of the pH probes. Of those, 46% (78/168) had pharyngeal reflux (extraesophageal gastric acid documented by the pharyngeal probe), despite having normal esophageal acid exposure times according to the esophageal probe. Thus, had the pharyngeal probe not been used, 46% of the children with documented extraesophageal (pharyngeal) reflux would have been falsely presumed to have normal reflux parameters. Patients with laryngeal abnormalities, pulmonary abnormalities, and emesis had significantly more pharyngeal acid reflux (p < .001) than patients with nonrespiratory symptoms. These data suggest that extraesophageal reflux may be underestimated by single-probe intraesophageal monitoring alone, and that laryngopharyngeal reflux may play a role in the pathogenesis of the conditions studied.

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