Measures of mood and effective coping strategies have notable correlations with quality of life and treatment responses. There is evidence that patients with previously diagnosed anxiety disorders have less improvement in patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) after laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery (LARS) and that objective pathology does not correlate well with symptom severity. We were interested in investigating whether anxiety and hypervigilance, as measured preoperatively with the esophageal hypervigilance anxiety scale (EHAS), is associated with the improvement in GERD-specific PROMs and EHAS scores 6 months after LARS.
We performed a retrospective cohort study of 102 adult patients (31% men, average age 64) who underwent LARS. In the preoperative evaluation, baseline gastroesophageal reflux disease-health-related quality of life (GERD-HRQL), laryngopharyngeal reflux symptom index (LPR-RSI) and EHAS scores were collected in addition to the standard reflux workup, including endoscopy, manometry, barium swallow, and pH study. For all three surveys, a higher score represents worse symptom severity. At 6 months postoperatively, 70 patients completed repeat GERD-HRQL, LPR-RSI, and EHAS surveys. We then analyzed for surgical and patient-related factors associated with improvement in the 6-month postoperative GERD-HRQL and LPR-RSI scores.
There was a statistically significant decrease in the GERD-HRQL (25 vs. 2, p < 0.001), LPR-RSI (17 vs. 3, p < 0.001) and EHAS (34 vs. 15, p < 0.001) 6 months after LARS. On multivariable linear regression, a higher baseline EHAS score was independently associated with a greater improvement in GERD-HRQL (β 0.35, p < 0.001) and LPR-RSI (β 0.19, p = 0.03) 6-months after LARS. Additionally, the degree of improvement in EHAS, GERD-HRQL, and LPR-RSI was not influenced by the type of LARS performed or by the severity of disease.
These findings are consistent with literature suggesting that measures of psychoemotional health correlate better with symptom intensity than objective pathology. We found that patients with a higher EHAS score have greater symptom severity and lower quality of life at baseline. Novel findings to this study are that patients with a higher preoperative EHAS, a measure of psychoemotional health, actually benefitted more from surgery and not less, which has been the traditional view in the literature. Future studies are warranted to establish directionality and explore the role of preoperative cognitive behavioral therapy with LARS for patients with significant symptoms of hypervigilance and anxiety.

© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.