Epidemiological studies have confirmed that gastroesophageal symptoms are highly prevalent.
However, studies linking epidemiology with clinical or chart data are scarce.
Dr Richard Locke and colleagues from Minnesota determined the frequency of endoscopy and endoscopic findings.
The research team also considered predictors of health-care utilization, among people with reflux symptoms in the community.
|54% of patients at the referral clinic had sought care for reflux
|American Journal of Gastroenterology|
A previous survey of 2118 Olmsted County residents in 1993 identified 242 subjects with frequent reflux symptoms at least weekly.
The researchers abstracted data Mayo Clinic records between 1988 and 1998.
The team found that overall, 54% of patients had sought care for reflux.
The researchers observed that 10% of patients had visited a gastroenterologist, and 19% had an upper endoscopy.
The team noted that 26% had an upper gastrointestinal X-ray, and one had an ambulatory 24-hour esophageal pH study.
Long segment Barrett's esophagus was detected in 9% of those having an upper endoscopy and adenocarcinoma was found in 1 patient with Barrett's.
The team also noted that 3 patients had surgery for gastroesophageal reflux disease.
In addition, the researchers reported that 5% of patients died, but no deaths were due to esophageal reflux or adenocarcinoma.
Age, higher education, frequent heartburn, and dysphagia were all significant, independent predictors of consulting.
Dr Locke's team concludes, “Although many people in the community have frequent reflux symptoms, few have investigations, and deaths were unrelated to reflux disease or its complications.”
“Data from a referral clinic or endoscopy series should not be extrapolated to the large numbers of people in the community with symptoms of reflux.”