Background: Transient lower oesophageal sphincter relaxation (TLOSR) is the predominant mechanism of gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) in healthy infants but the mechanisms of GOR in infants with GOR disease (GORD) are poorly understood.
Aims: To measure the occurrence of TLOSR, GOR, and gastric emptying (GE) rate in preterm and term infants with GORD.
Patients: Thirty six infants were studied and grouped as normals or GORD based on a routine clinical assessment and confirmation of an assessment of GORD by reflux symptom charts and oesophageal pH monitoring.
Methods: A micromanometric assembly incorporating a micro pH electrode recorded oesophageal motility and pH. GE rate was determined using the '3C-octanoic acid breath test.
Results: TLOSR was the predominant mechanism of GOR, triggering 50-100% of GOR episodes (median 91.5%). Abdominothoracic straining significantly increased the occurrence of GOR in association with TLOSR. In infants with GORD, the number of TLOSRs overall was similar to normals but the proportion of TLOSRs accompanied by acid GOR was significantly higher than in normals (16.5% v 5.7%, respectively; p.~0.00 1). Infants with GORD had a similar GE rate to normals.
Conclusions: In infant GORD, acid reflux associated TLOSRs are abnormally common and likely to be a major contributing factor to the pathophysiology of GORD. Infants with GORD do not have delayed GE.
Gastro-aesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is common in infants and causes irritability, frequent vomiting, apnoea, aspiration pneumonia, and failure to thrive. (1) Recent studies in healthy preterm infants have shown that transient lower aesophageal sphincter relaxation (TLOSR) is the predominant mechanism of GOR. (2-4) There is still debate as to whether in patients with GORD, TLOSRs occur at a similar rate to normal subjects, but are more often associated with the occurrence of acid reflux. (5)
Pathophysiological mechanisms of GORD have not been studied in preterm and term infants and there are no published data in these patients. Delayed gastric emptying (GE) may be present in infants (6) but a previous study which correlated GE and reflux parameters in infants showed no relationship. (7) Improvement of GE, in addition to increased salivary secretion, LOS tone, and oesophageal motility, is one rationale for prokinetic therapy although recent studies have been unable to demonstrate acceleration of GE with cisapride (8 9)
The aim of this study was to use simultaneous pH monitoring, aesophageal manometry recording, and GE assessment to characterise the motor mechanisms responsible for GOR in premature and term infants with and without GORD.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The study was approved by the ethics committee of the Women's and Children's Hospital and informed consent was obtained before each study. Studies were performed in 36 (16 male and 20 female) infants with a mean postmenstrual age of 36[+ or -]2 weeks (range 33-40). Mean infant weight was 2079 g (range 1480-2840). Sixteen infants were receiving xanthine treatment for apnoea of prematurity. Gavage (tube) feeds were of non-fortified expressed breast milk (EBM) in 22 infants and 14 were receiving infant formula (Enfalac 20 or 24 calorie/ml; Mead Johnson, Canada). Infants received bolus feeds at two (n=7), three (n= 19), or four (n=10) hour intervals.
The normal (control) group in this study consisted of 22 infants who were healthy for relative gestational age with no history of feeding problems and/or GOR. These infants were compared with a group of 14 symptomatic infants with GORD who had been seen from birth by one physician (their consistent medical care giver). The research team was notified in cases where an infant was experiencing feeding problems and/or reflux based on a …