The incidence of oesophagitis has been determined in 108 patients with sliding hiatus hernias using endoscopic, histological, and radiological criteria. Particular consideration has been given to the relationship between inflammatory disease and clinical symptoms. All the patients were attending a thoracic surgical clinic and the spectrum of disease encountered was fairly severe; over half of the cases had established strictures when first seen. The incidence of oesophagitis based on endoscopic evidence was 76·9%, while inflammatory change was noted on biopsy in 56·2% and at barium swallow in 58·3% of the patients. Oesophagoscopy proved to be the most satisfactory method of assessment; biopsy specimens were either inadequate or correlated poorly with other criteria while barium swallow was of diagnostic value only in severe oesophagitis. The main symptoms were pain, heartburn with regurgitation, dysphagia, and bleeding. Dysphagia was common due to the preponderance of patients with strictures, while obvious bleeding was very uncommon. Endoscopic oesophagitis was found in 75% of the patients with specific retrosternal pain and in 60% of those with heartburn and regurgitation. The inability to equate heartburn with oesophagitis is emphasized. The incidence of inflammatory change in patients with dysphagia was 87·2%; nearly all the cases in this group showed stricture formation.
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