Transient Lower Esophageal Sphincter Relaxations and Mechanical Incompetence of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter – Is There a Relationship?
Author(s): Karl-Hermann Fuchs, Stephan Maximillian Freys, Tom R DeMeester
Introduction: The detailed process of a gastroesophageal reflux event is still under controversial discussion. Gastroenterologists have developed and favor the concept of Transient Lower esophageal Sphincter Relaxations (TLESR`s) as the major cause of gastroesophageal reflux episodes. TLESR`s are related with reflux episodes both in healthy individuals and patients with GERD. Another concept around the functional mechanism of the antirefluxbarrier is a more mechanical interpretation of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), developed by surgeons.
The aim of this study is to investigate this relationship between TLESR`s and the mechanical failure of the LES by investigating these criteria in the same individuals.
Methods: In a referral center for esophageal and gastric functional disease at the University Hospital in Würzburg, Germany, we investigated healthy volunteers and patients with proven GERD. The assessment of the LES consisted of the overall length, the intraabdominal length, and the end-expiratory pressure of the LES. The manometry was performed in a station-to-station-pull-through technique. The changing LES pressure and the TLESRs were measured with a sleeve catheter according to the protocol published by Dent and Schoeman. The presence of pathologic reflux in patients was evaluated by 24h pH monitoring.
Results: In total, 8 healthy volunteers were investigated (median age: 26 years (22-34)). In addition, 21 patients with GERD were evaluated (median age: 49 years (25-68)). The frequency of TLESR´s was quite low in volunteers and patients with 0,4 TLESR`s/h and 0,6 TLESR`s/h respectively. While the frequency of TLESR`s was not different between volunteers and GERD-patients, the percentage of reflux-associated TLESR`s was significantly higher in GERD-patients with mechanically incompetent LES (20,8%), compared to the percentage in GERD-patients with intact LES (6,8%) and also compared to the percentage in healthy volunteers (7,8%) (p<0,001).
Conclusion: The present analysis shows a relationship between a mechanically incompetent LES and an increased number of reflux-associated TLESR`s, suggesting that the two mechanisms are not mutually exclusive, but may be instead different measurements of the same condition - a functionally and mechanically defective LES.