Paradigm shift in the management of gastroesophageal reflux disease

Ann Surg. 2003 May;237(5):638-47; discussion 648-9

OBJECTIVE: To compare the short-term results of the radiofrequency treatment of the gastroesophageal junction known as the Stretta procedure versus laparoscopic fundoplication (LF) in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: The Stretta procedure has been shown to be safe, well tolerated, and highly effective in the treatment of GERD. METHODS: All patients presenting to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for surgical evaluation of GERD between August 2000 and March 2002 were prospectively evaluated under an IRB-approved protocol. All patients underwent esophageal motility testing and endoscopy that documented GERD preoperatively, either by a positive 24-hour pH study or biopsy-proven esophagitis. Patients were offered the Stretta procedure if they had documented GERD and did not have a hiatal hernia larger than 2 cm, LES pressure less than 8 mmHg, or Barrett's esophagus. Patients with larger hiatal hernias, LES pressure less than 8 mmHg, or Barrett's were offered LF. All patients were studied pre- and postoperatively with validated GERD-specific quality-of-life questionnaires (QOLRAD) and short-form health surveys (SF-12). Current medication use and satisfaction with the procedure was also obtained.

RESULTS: Results are reported as mean +/- SEM. Seventy-five patients (age 49 +/- 14 years, 44% male, 56% female) underwent LF and 65 patients (age 46 +/- 12 years, 42%, 58% female) underwent the Stretta procedure. Preoperative esophageal acid exposure time was higher in the LF group. Preoperative LES pressure was higher in the Stretta group. In the LF group, 41% had large hiatal hernias (>2 cm), 8 patients required Collis gastroplasty, 6 had Barrett's esophagus, and 10 had undergone previous fundoplication. At 6 months, the QOLRAD and SF-12 scores were significantly improved within both groups. There was an equal magnitude of improvement between pre- and postoperative QOLRAD and SF-12 scores between Stretta and LF patients. Fifty-eight percent of Stretta patients were off proton pump inhibitors, and an additional 31% had reduced their dose significantly; 97% of LF patients were off PPIs. Twenty-two Stretta patients returned for 24-hour pH testing at a mean of 7.2 +/- 0.5 months, and there was a significant reduction in esophageal acid exposure time. Both groups were highly satisfied with their procedure.

CONCLUSIONS: The addition of a less invasive, endoscopic treatment for GERD to the surgical algorithm has allowed the authors to stratify the management of GERD patients to treatment with either Stretta or LF according to size of hiatal hernia, LES pressure, Barrett's esophagus, and significant pulmonary symptoms. Patients undergoing Stretta are highly satisfied and have improved GERD symptoms and quality of life comparable to LF. The Stretta procedure is an effective alternative to LF in well-selected patients.