Thorax 53:963-968 doi:10.1136/thx.53.11.963
  • Original article

Gastro-oesophageal reflux related cough and its response to laparoscopic fundoplication

  1. Christopher J Allen,
  2. Mehran Anvari
  1. Departments of Medicine and Surgery, McMaster University, St Joseph’s Hospital, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8N 4A6
  1. Dr C Allen.
  • Received 10 June 1997
  • Revision requested 2 December 1997
  • Revised 5 June 1998
  • Accepted 8 June 1998


BACKGROUND This study was designed to determine prospectively the rate of cough before and after laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication performed for the control of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.

METHODS One hundred and ninety five consecutive patients (76 men) of mean (SD) age 46.9 (14.1) years with proven gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, who were either on long term omeprazole (n = 187) or who had not responded to a trial of omeprazole (n = 8), took part in the study which was carried out in a university teaching hospital that included a regional respiratory referral centre. Patients underwent oesophageal manometry, 24 hour oesophageal pH testing, and symptom score evaluation by an independent observer before and six months after laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication.

RESULTS One hundred and thirty three patients presented with reflux symptoms and 62 with respiratory symptoms; 68% of patients complained of cough before surgery (86% with respiratory symptoms, 60% with gastrointestinal symptoms). The percentage reflux time in 24 hours fell significantly (p<0.0001) from a mean (SD) of 9.38 (10.99)% to 1.22 (2.92)%, lower oesophageal sphincter tone rose significantly (p<0.0001) from a mean (SD) of 7.71 (5.90) mm Hg to 21.74 (10.84) mm Hg, and the cough score fell from a median value of 8.0 (IQR 12.0) to 0 (IQR 3) following surgery. Of the patients with cough, 51% were cough free after surgery and 31% improved. The patients with respiratory symptoms had a higher cough score before (median 12.0 (IQR 5.5) versus 4.0 (IQR 8.75), p<0.0001) and after surgery (median 1 (7.5) versus 0.0 (IQR 1.0), p = 0.0045) than those with gastrointestinal symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS Patients who present to gastroenterologists with severe reflux commonly complain of cough. Laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication is effective in the control of cough in patients with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, with or without primary respiratory disease.