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Duodenogastroesophageal reflux and its effect on extraesophageal tissues: A review

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April 1, 2008
by Joel H. Blumin, MD, Albert L. Merati, MD, and Robert J. Toohill, MD


We conducted a literature review to identify elements of duodenogastroesophageal reflux (DGER)—namely pancreatic fluids, hydrochloric acid, pepsin, and bile—as to the effects each has when refluxed to the extraesophageal structures. Further, we wished to acquaint clinicians with the possibilities that, in addition to hydrochloric acid, the other components of DGER are likewise contributing to disease in the extraesophageal areas. Our review included studies that have indicated reflux of the above mentioned components of DGER to the pharynx, larynx, tracheobronchial tree, oral cavity, nasopharynx, nose and sinuses, eustachian tube, and middle ear. Findings demonstrate that injury to the upper aerodigestive tract can occur from a variety of substances secreted from the stomach and duodenum. Treatment for DGER is nonspecific. We conclude that patients with an incomplete response to acid suppression may have significant involvement of pepsin, bile, or both. Future studies are needed to clarify the importance of these elements and to suggest more precise treatments.

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