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Last Updated: Feb 19, 2013 - 1:22:36 AM
Research Article
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Latest Research : Medicine : Respiratory Medicine

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Surgically treating GERD helps preserve lung function before and after transplantation

Sep 19, 2011 - 5:34:04 PM , Reviewed by: Dr. Sanjukta Acharya

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[RxPG] Surgery to correct gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, can preserve lung function in patients with end-stage pulmonary disease both before and after transplantation, according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published in the Archives of Surgery, suggest that esophageal testing should be performed more frequently among these patients to determine if anti-reflux surgery is needed.

Many end-stage lung disease patients, particularly those with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or cystic fibrosis have GERD, and the reflux problem is very common after lung transplantation, said Blair Jobe, M.D., professor of surgery, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Pitt School of Medicine. Also, GERD has been associated with bronchiolotis obliterans syndrome (BOS), which is a progressive impairment of air flow that is a leading cause of death after lung transplantation. Its cause is not yet known.

"It's possible that reflux, which is due to a weak sphincter between the stomach and esophagus, allows acid and other gastric juices to leak back not only into the esophagus, but also to get aspirated in small amounts into the lungs," Dr. Jobe said. "That micro-aspiration could be setting the stage for the development of BOS."

Lead author Toshitaka Hoppo, M.D., Ph.D., research assistant professor, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Pitt School of Medicine, stressed the importance of esophageal testing for reflux in patients with end-stage pulmonary disease. He noted that "almost one-half of the patients in our series did not have symptoms but were having clinically silent exposure to gastric fluid. Based on this finding, there should be a very low threshold for esophageal testing in this patient population."

For the study, Dr. Jobe's team reviewed medical charts of 43 end-stage lung-disease patients with documented GERD, 19 of whom were being evaluated for lung transplant and 24 who had already undergone transplantation. All the patients were on GERD medications at the time they were evaluated for antireflux surgery (ARS), which prevents fluid from leaking back into the esophagus. Prior to ARS, nearly half of the patients had either no or mild symptoms of GERD and only a fifth had the typical symptoms of heartburn and regurgitation.

The researchers found that nearly all measures of lung function improved after ARS in both the pre- and post-transplant groups. There also were fewer episodes of acute rejection and pneumonia after ARS in the post-transplant group.

"The surgery appeared to benefit even those who hadn't yet had a transplant," Dr. Jobe noted. "Given the shortage of donor organs, ARS might help preserve the patient's own function and buy some more time."




Publication: Archives of Surgery
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 About Dr. Sanjukta Acharya
This news story has been reviewed by Dr. Sanjukta Acharya before its publication on RxPG News website. Dr. Sanjukta Acharya, MBBS MRCP is the chief editor for RxPG News website. She oversees all the medical news submissions and manages the medicine section of the website. She has a special interest in nephrology. She can be reached for corrections and feedback at sanjukta.acharya@rxpgnews.com
RxPG News is committed to promotion and implementation of Evidence Based Medical Journalism in all channels of mass media including internet.
 Additional information about the news article
Co-authors of the paper include Yoshiya Toyoda, M.D., Ph.D., James D. Luketich, M.D., and others from the Departments of Cardiothoracic Surgery and of Medicine, Pitt School of Medicine; and John G. Hunter, M.D., of Oregon Health & Science University.


About the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

As one of the nation's leading academic centers for biomedical research, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine integrates advanced technology with basic science across a broad range of disciplines in a continuous quest to harness the power of new knowledge and improve the human condition. Driven mainly by the School of Medicine and its affiliates, Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1997.

Likewise, the School of Medicine is equally committed to advancing the quality and strength of its medical and graduate education programs, for which it is recognized as an innovative leader, and to training highly skilled, compassionate clinicians and creative scientists well-equipped to engage in world-class research. The School of Medicine is the academic partner of UPMC, which has collaborated with the University to raise the standard of medical excellence in Pittsburgh and to position health care as a driving force behind the region's economy.
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