Fifty patients (29 men, 21 women; aged 49.9 ± 6.6 years, mean ± SD) were evaluated prospectively in our endoscopy unit for symptoms compatible with GERD, namely heartburn, acid regurgitation and belching. A standardized questionnaire was completed for each patient during an interview with an experienced gastroenterologist. Demographic details of the GERD patients were recorded, including age, sex, smoking habits, tea, coffee and alcohol consumption, and concurrent medical conditions including hypertension and diabetes mellitus.
None of the patients included in this study had a current or past history of peptic ulcer disease, previous gastric surgery, antihelicobacter therapy, or use of PPIs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids or tetracycline during the previous 4 weeks. Ethics approval was obtained from the ethics committee of the University Hospital of Alexandroupolis, and patients provided signed, informed consent for their biopsy specimens to be taken.
Routine endoscopy was performed in all patients by the same endoscopist using a flexible endoscope (GIF-Q145, Olympus). The distance between the esophagogastric junction and the incisor teeth was recorded. Reflux esophagitis was graded in accordance with the Los Angeles classification . HH was considered present if gastric folds were assessed as extending ≥2 cm above the diaphragmatic hiatus during quiet respiration .
At least four biopsy specimens were taken at 3 cm above the lower esophageal sphincter with biopsy forceps (Olympus) in a criss-cross manner. In order to improve endoscopic visualization and provide biopsy orientation, 20 ml of 2% potassium iodine solution (Lugol) was applied through a "spray" catheter [9–11]. To obtain sufficient material and to ensure an almost vertical pinch biopsy specimen, the opened forceps were withdrawn towards the tip of the endoscope, which was bent forwards maximally, and hence the forceps were pressed vertically against the esophageal wall. Specimens were fixed in 40 mg/L formaldehyde .
After all the sections had been obtained, they were assessed histologically in a blinded manner (i.e. without endoscopic or clinical information). Standardized reports completed by the histopathologist comprised an evaluation of the following histological parameters: basal zone hyperplasia, papillary length, dilatation of intraepithelial blood vessels, and semi-quantitative cellular infiltration by T-lymphocytes, neutrophils and eosinophils. Alterations in glycogen content, erosion, ulceration and chronic inflammation were also assessed as described previously [12–17].
The chi-square test with Yates' correlation was used to compare discrete parameters between groups. However, Fisher's exact probability test was used where expected frequencies were lower than 5. Wilcoxon's test for unpaired samples was preferred in cases of semi-quantitative parameters due to its greater power. Mean values and their 95% confidence limits were calculated. Statistical significance was set at P ≤ 0.05. All analyses were performed using the statistical software package "Statistica (version 6)".