The relationship between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and sleep disturbance has recently been pointed out and is garnering substantial attention. Although there are reports that point out the effectiveness of medical treatment for sleep disturbance associated with GERD, examinations of the pathological condition, including reflux during sleep, are inadequate. In the present study, we evaluated the recumbent reflux in patients with GERD and sleep disturbance using multichannel intraluminal impedance pH (MII-pH), and attempted to suppress recumbent reflux by surgical treatment to examine the pathophysiology of patients with GERD and sleep disturbance.
Of the 47 patients with GERD-related diseases in whom laparoscopic fundoplication was performed at The Jikei University Hospital from January 2016 to June 2017, 31 patients (average age: 55.9 ± 13.8 years, male in 25), excluding 9 with surgical indications only for esophageal hiatal hernia and 7 without postoperative evaluation, were the subjects of this study. All surgical procedures were performed by the Toupet method. We used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) to evaluate sleep disturbance, setting 5.5 as the cut-off value, based on the report by Doi et al., with any conditions beyond this value deemed sleep disturbance. The evaluation of gastroesophageal reflux was carried based on the MII-pH using the Sleuth, manufactured by Sandhill Corporation, with an automatic analysis carried out by computer. Furthermore, recumbent abnormal reflux was defined as recumbent all reflux (times) > 7. All evaluations were performed preoperatively and at 3 months after the operation. The data were expressed in medians and interquartile ranges, with p < 0.05 defined as statistically significant by the Mann-Whitney, Wilcoxon, or Chi-squared test.
Although sleep disturbance was found in 19 cases (61%), 8 (42%) of which were actually confirmed as nighttime abnormal reflux, of whom 5 cases (63%) showed significant improvement in their sleep disturbance following the operation, with a PSQI score of lower than 5.5. Among these 5 cases, postoperative recumbent abnormal reflux was also significantly reduced as compared with the preoperative condition (17 vs. 2 times/day, p = 0.042). Furthermore, sleep disturbance improved and recumbent abnormal reflux also decreased in two cases, with sleep disturbance improved by controlling the nighttime reflux via surgery in a total of 7 cases (87.5%). Although the PSQI score was as high as 14 points before and after the operation in one case, the rate of recumbent abnormal reflux was remarkably reduced, with sleep disturbance and recumbent reflux considered irrelevant. Furthermore, regarding the frequency of recumbent acid/non-acid reflux, while non-acid reflux was significantly more frequent in the patients with recumbent reflux complications (9 vs. 1 time/day, p < 0.001), there was no marked difference in the frequency of acid reflux.
Among cases with GERD and sleep disturbance, approximately one-third of them showed findings suggestive of the involvement of recumbent reflux in sleep disturbance, with reflux characterized by non-acid reflux.