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Gastroesophageal Reflux DiseaseA Review

Educational Objective
To review the clinical management of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
1 Credit CME

Importance  Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is defined by recurrent and troublesome heartburn and regurgitation or GERD-specific complications and affects approximately 20% of the adult population in high-income countries.

Observations  GERD can influence patients’ health-related quality of life and is associated with an increased risk of esophagitis, esophageal strictures, Barrett esophagus, and esophageal adenocarcinoma. Obesity, tobacco smoking, and genetic predisposition increase the risk of developing GERD. Typical GERD symptoms are often sufficient to determine the diagnosis, but less common symptoms and signs, such as dysphagia and chronic cough, may occur. Patients with typical GERD symptoms can be medicated empirically with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). Among patients who do not respond to such treatment or if the diagnosis is unclear, endoscopy, esophageal manometry, and esophageal pH monitoring are recommended. Patients with GERD symptoms combined with warning symptoms of malignancy (eg, dysphagia, weight loss, bleeding) and those with other main risk factors for esophageal adenocarcinoma, such as older age, male sex, and obesity, should undergo endoscopy. Lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery are the main treatment options for GERD. Weight loss and smoking cessation are often useful. Medication with a PPI is the most common treatment, and after initial full-dose therapy, which usually is omeprazole 20 mg once daily, the aim is to use the lowest effective dose. Observational studies have suggested several adverse effects after long-term PPI, but these findings need to be confirmed before influencing clinical decision making. Surgery with laparoscopic fundoplication is an invasive treatment alternative in select patients after thorough and objective assessments, particularly if they are young and healthy. Endoscopic and less invasive surgical techniques are emerging, which may reduce the use of long-term PPI and fundoplication, but the long-term safety and efficacy remain to be scientifically established.

Conclusions and Relevance  The clinical management of GERD influences the lives of many individuals and is responsible for substantial consumption of health care and societal resources. Treatments include lifestyle modification, PPI medication, and laparoscopic fundoplication. New endoscopic and less invasive surgical procedures are evolving. PPI use remains the dominant treatment, but long-term therapy requires follow-up and reevaluation for potential adverse effects.

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CME Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships. If applicable, all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.

Article Information

Corresponding Author: Jesper Lagergren, MD, PhD, Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery, Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Retzius St 13a, Karolinska Institutet, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden (jesper.lagergren@ki.se).

Accepted for Publication: October 12, 2020.

Author Contributions: Dr Lagergren had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: All authors.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: Maret-Ouda, Markar.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: Markar, Lagergren.

Statistical analysis: Maret-Ouda.

Obtained funding: Lagergren.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Maret-Ouda.

Supervision: Markar, Lagergren.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: No disclosures were reported.

Funding/Support: Dr Maret-Ouda was supported by the Centre for Clinical Research Sormland. Dr Markar was supported by the National Institute for Health Research. Dr Lagergren was supported by the Distinguished Professor Award at Karolinska Institutet and the United European Gastroenterology (UEG) Research Prize.

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The funders had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

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AMA CME Accreditation Information

Credit Designation Statement: The American Medical Association designates this Journal-based CME activity activity for a maximum of 1.00  AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Successful completion of this CME activity, which includes participation in the evaluation component, enables the participant to earn up to:

  • 1.00 Medical Knowledge MOC points in the American Board of Internal Medicine's (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program;;
  • 1.00 Self-Assessment points in the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery’s (ABOHNS) Continuing Certification program;
  • 1.00 MOC points in the American Board of Pediatrics’ (ABP) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program;
  • 1.00 Lifelong Learning points in the American Board of Pathology’s (ABPath) Continuing Certification program; and
  • 1.00 CME points in the American Board of Surgery’s (ABS) Continuing Certification program

It is the CME activity provider's responsibility to submit participant completion information to ACCME for the purpose of granting MOC credit.

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