Objective: To determine if patients with gastroesophageal reflux 'well controlled medically' had a different quality of life from those with residual symptoms receiving aggressive medical therapy, and to determine whether laparoscopic antireflux surgery significantly altered quality of life in patients with gastroesophageal reflux. Summary Background Data: Clinical determinants of outcome may not adequately reflect the full impact of therapy. The medical outcomes study short form (SF-36) is a well-validated questionnaire that assays eight specific health concepts in three general fields. It may provide a more sensitive tool for judging the success of antireflux therapy. Methods: A total of 345 patients undergoing laparoscopic antireflux surgery completed at least one questionnaire during the study period. Preoperative questionnaires were completed by 290 patients, 223 completed a questionnaire 6 weeks after surgery, and 50 completed the same questionnaire 1 year after surgery. A subgroup of 70 patients was divided before surgery into two groups on the basis of their response to standard medical therapy. Results: Preoperative scores were extremely low. All eight SF-36 health categories improved significantly 6 weeks and 1 year after surgery. In the 70-patient subgroup, 53 patients (76%) underwent laparoscopic antireflux surgery because of symptoms refractory to medical therapy and 17 patients (24%) reported that their symptoms were well controlled but elected to have surgery because they wished to be medication-free. The preoperative quality of life scores of these two patient groups were equivalent in all but one category. Postoperative scores were significantly improved in all categories and indistinguishable between the two groups. Conclusions: Laparoscopic antireflux surgery is an effective therapy for patients with gastroesophageal reflux and may be more effective than medical therapy at improving quality of life.
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