To investigate the utility of scintigraphic studies in predicting response to laparoscopic fundoplication (LF) for chronic laryngopharyngeal reflux symptoms.
Patients with upper aero-digestive symptoms that remained undiagnosed after a period of 2 mo were studied with conventional pH and manometric studies. Patients mainly complained of cough, sore throat, dysphonia and globus. These patients were imaged after ingestion of 99m-technetium diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid. Studies were quantified with time activity curves over the pharynx, upper and lower oesophagus and background. Late studies of the lungs were obtained for aspiration. Patients underwent LF with post-operative review at 3 mo after surgery.
Thirty four patients (20 F, 14 M) with an average age of 57 years and average duration of symptoms of 4.8 years were studied. Twenty four hour pH and manometry studies were abnormal in all patients. On scintigraphy, 27/34 patients demonstrated pharyngeal contamination and a rising or flat pharyngeal curve. Lung aspiration was evident in 50% of patients. There was evidence of pulmonary aspiration in 17 of 34 patients in the delayed study (50%). Pharyngeal contamination was found in 27 patients. All patients with aspiration showed pharyngeal contamination. In the 17 patients with aspiration, graphical time activity curve showed rising activity in the pharynx in 9 patients and a flat curve in 8 patients. In those 17 patients without pulmonary aspiration, 29% (5 patients) had either a rising or flat pharyngeal graph. A rising or flat curve predicted aspiration with a positive predictive value of 77% and a negative predictive value of 100%. Over 90% of patients reported a satisfactory symptomatic response to LF with an acceptable side-effect profile.
Scintigraphic reflux studies offer a good screening tool for pharyngeal contamination and aspiration in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease.