Letter to the Editor
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2022. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Jul 28, 2022; 28(28): 3743-3746
Published online Jul 28, 2022. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v28.i28.3743
Is patient satisfaction sufficient to validate endoscopic anti-reflux treatments?
Mauro Bortolotti
Mauro Bortolotti, Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, S. Orsola-Malpighi Polyclinic, University of Bologna, Bologna 40138, Italy
Author contributions: Bortolotti M wrote the paper.
Conflict-of-interest statement: No conflict of interest exists.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: https://creativecommons.org/Licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Corresponding author: Mauro Bortolotti, MD, Via Massarenti 48, Bologna 40138, Italy. bormau@tin.it
Received: February 21, 2022
Peer-review started: February 21, 2022
First decision: May 29, 2022
Revised: June 8, 2022
Accepted: July 8, 2022
Article in press: July 8, 2022
Published online: July 28, 2022

Endoscopic anti-reflux treatment is emerging as a new option for gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) treatment in patients with the same indications as for laparoscopic fundoplication. There are many techniques, the first of which are transoral incisionless fundoplication (TIF) and nonablative radio-frequency (STRETTA) that have been tested with comparative studies and randomized controlled trials, whereas the other more recent ones still require a deeper evaluation. The purpose of the latter is to verify whether reflux is abolished or significantly reduced after intervention, whether there is a valid high pressure zone at the gastroesophageal junction, and whether esophagitis, when present, has disappeared. Unfortunately in a certain number of cases, and especially in the more recently introduced ones, the evaluation has been based almost exclusively on subjective criteria, such as improvement in the quality of life, remission of heartburn and regurgitation, and reduction or suspension of antacid and antisecretory drug consumption. However, with the most studied techniques such as TIF and STRETTA, an improvement in symptoms better than that of laparoscopic fundoplication can often be observed, whereas the number of acid episodes and acid exposure time are similar or higher, as if the acid refluxes are better tolerated by these patients. The suspicion of a local hyposensitivity taking place after anti-reflux endoscopic intervention seems confirmed by a Bernstein test at least for STRETTA. This examination should be done for all the other techniques, both old and new, to identify the ones that reassure rather than cure. In conclusion, the evaluation of the effectiveness of the endoscopic anti-reflux techniques should not be based exclusively on subjective criteria, but should also be confirmed by objective examinations, because there might be a gap between the improvement in symptoms declared by the patient and the underlying pathophysiologic alterations of GERD.

Keywords: Endoscopic anti-reflux treatment, Transoral incisionless fundoplication, Nonablative radio-frequency, Anti-reflux mucosectomy, Gastro-esophageal reflux disease, Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication

Core Tip: Endoscopic anti-reflux treatments are being increasingly used instead of anti-reflux surgery. However, most of them have been evaluated only on the ground of subjective symptoms, without performing any objective examination. Furthermore, some also appear to be more effective than surgery in improving acid reflux symptoms, even if their acid exposure is worse, suggesting a reduced sensitivity. The Bernstein test performed after nonablative radio-frequency seems to confirm this hypothesis. Hence, to verify the effectiveness of these esophageal anti-reflux interventions, in addition to evaluating the symptoms before and after the intervention, it is necessary to perform objective examinations.