Evolution in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease over the last century: from a crural-centered to a lower esophageal sphincter-centered approach and back.

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Diseases of the esophagus : official journal of the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus / I.S.D.E


washington; swedish; swedish cancer; swedish thoracic


The surgical management of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) has evolved significantly over the past century, driven by increased understanding of the physiology of the reflux barrier, its anatomic components, and surgical innovation. Initially, emphasis was on reduction of hiatal hernias and crural closure as the etiology behind GERD was felt to be solely related to the anatomic alterations caused by hiatal hernias. With persistence of reflux-related changes in some patients despite crural closure, along with the development of what is now modern manometry and the discovery of a high-pressure zone at the distal esophagus, focus evolved to surgical augmentation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). With this transition to an LES-centric approach, attention shifted to reconstruction of the angle of His, ensuring sufficient intra-abdominal esophageal length, development of the now commonly employed Nissen fundoplication, and creation of devices that directly augment the LES such as magnetic sphincter augmentation. More recently, the role of crural closure in antireflux and hiatal hernia surgery has again received renewed attention due to the persistence of postoperative complications including wrap herniation and high rates of recurrences. Rather than simply preventing transthoracic herniation of the fundoplication as was originally thought, diaphragmatic crural closure has been documented to have a key role in re-establishing intra-abdominal esophageal length and contributing to the restoration of normal LES pressures. This progression from a crural-centric to a LES-centric approach and back has evolved along with our understanding of the reflux barrier and will continue to do so as more advances are made in the field. In this review, we will discuss the evolution of surgical techniques over the past century, highlighting key historical contributions that have shaped our management of GERD today.

Clinical Institute


Clinical Institute

Digestive Health