Increases in the prevalence of obesity and gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) have paralleled one
another over the past decade, which suggests the pos-sibility of a linkage between these two processes. In both instances, surgical therapy is recognized as the most effective treatment for severe, refractory disease. Current surgical therapies for severe obesity include (in descending frequency) Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy, and biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch, while fundoplication remains the mainstay for the treatment of severe GERD. In several large series, however, the outcomes and durability of fundoplication in the setting of severe obesity are not as good as those in patients who are not severely obese. As such, bariatric surgery has been suggested as a potential alternative treatment for these patients. This article reviews current concepts in the putative pathophysiological mechanisms by which obesity contributes to gastroesophageal reflux and their implications with regards to surgical therapy for GERD in the setting of severe obesity.
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