Copyright ©2009 Baishideng. All rights reserved.
World J Gastrointest Surg. Nov 30, 2009; 1(1): 8-10
Published online Nov 30, 2009. doi: 10.4240/wjgs.v1.i1.8
Gastroesophageal reflux disease and the airway-essentials for the surgeon
Vic Velanovich
Vic Velanovich, Division of General Surgery, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI 48202, United States
Author contributions: Velanovich V contributed solely to this paper.
Correspondence to: Vic Velanovich, MD, Division of General Surgery, K-8, Henry Ford Hospital, 2799 West Grand Blvd., Detroit, MI 48202, United States. vvelano1@hfhs.org
Telephone: +1-313-9168984 Fax: +1-313-9169920
Received: July 24, 2009
Revised: October 24, 2009
Accepted: November 1, 2009
Published online: November 30, 2009

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) has many protean manifestations. Some of the most vexing have to do with the airway. GERD affects the tracheobronchial tree directly, leading to aspiration pneumonia and asthma, or exacerbating existing pulmonary disease, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In addition to the respiratory manifestation of GERD, there are unique pharyngeal and laryngeal manifestations. These include voice hoarseness, throat-clearing, chronic cough, globus, and “post-nasal drip”. Linking these symptoms to GERD is challenging and frequently the diagnosis is that of exclusion. Despite proton pump inhibitor therapy being the mainstay of treatment, with anti-reflux surgery being reserved for intractable cases, there is no definitive evidence of the superiority of either.

Keywords: Gastroesophageal reflux disease, Laryngopharyngeal reflux, Reflux-induced asthma, Aspiration pneumonia, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Chronic cough, Reflux laryngitis