Does laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication lead to chronic gastrointestinal dysfunction?
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BACKGROUND: Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication (LNF) efficiently controls the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); however, other nonspecific gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms have been reported following LNF. The aim of this study was to evaluate the long-term effects of LNF on nonspecific GI complaints. METHODS: The basis for this study is the prospective follow-up of 515 patients (mean age 46 +/- 13 years) who underwent a LNF between 1992 and 1998. A questionnaire was designed to evaluate GERD symptoms (i.e., heartburn, epigastric pain, regurgitation, dysphagia, and fullness, score 0-60) and nonspecific GI symptoms (i.e., vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and lack of appetite, score 0-48). Patients were assessed before surgery, at 6 months, 2 years, and 5 years after surgery. RESULTS: Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication was associated with a significant decrease in both GERD and nonspecific GI symptoms score at 6 months and up to 5 years, in the whole group (p < 0.001). 360 patients (69.7%) had preoperative nonspecific GI symptoms and experienced a significant reduction in these symptoms following the surgery and lasting up to 5 years. The other 155 patients (30.3%) had no preoperative GI symptoms (GI symptoms score of 0). In this group, there was a small but statistically significant increase in GI symptoms score (p < 0.001). It was, however, clinically significant (defined as a score >12) in only 9.9% of the patients. CONCLUSIONS: Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication provides an efficient treatment of GERD up to 5 years, and in a majority of patients, it is not associated with any significant increase in nonspecific GI complaints. New nonspecific bowel symptoms can develop after LNF in some patients but are unlikely to be clinically significant.
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