Revista ABCd (São Paulo). 01 Sep, 2014

Diagnosis and management of gastroesophageal reflux disease

DOI: 10.1590/S0102-67202014000300013


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is probably one of the most prevalent diseases in the world that also compromises the quality of life of the affected significantly. Its incidence in Brazil is 12%, corresponding to 20 million individuals.


To update the GERD management and the new trends on diagnosis and treatment, reviewing the international and Brazilian experience on it.


The literature review was based on papers published on Medline/Pubmed, SciELO, Lilacs, Embase and Cochrane crossing the following headings: gastroesophageal reflux disease, diagnosis, clinical treatment, surgery, fundoplication.


Various factors are involved on GERD physiopathology, the most important being the transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxation. Clinical manifestations are heartburn, regurgitation (typical symptoms), cough, chest pain, asthma, hoarseness and throat clearing (atypical symptoms), which may be followed or not by typical symptoms. GERD patients may present complications such as peptic stenosis, hemorrhage, and Barrett's esophagus, which is the most important predisposing factor to adenocarcinoma. The GERD diagnosis must be based on the anamnesis and the symptoms must be evaluated in terms of duration, intensity, frequency, triggering and relief factors, pattern of evolution and impact on the patient's quality of life. The diagnosis requires confirmation with different exams. The goal of the clinical treatment is to relieve the symptoms and surgical treatment is indicated for patients who require continued drug use, with intolerance to prolonged clinical treatment and with GERD complications.


GERD is a major digestive health problem and affect 12% of Brazilian people. The anamnesis is fundamental for the diagnosis of GERD, with special analysis of the typical and atypical symptoms (duration, intensity, frequency, triggering and relief factors, evolution and impact on the life quality). High digestive endoscopy and esophageal pHmetry are the most sensitive diagnosctic methods. The clinical treatment is useful in controlling the symptoms; however, the great problem is keeping the patients asymptomatic over time. Surgical treatment is indicated for patients who required continued drug use, intolerant to the drugs and with complicated forms of GERD.

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