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Fifty-three patients with symptomatic reflux oesophagitis were entered into a single centre randomized study comparing the effects of a dimethicone/antacid (Asilone Gel) and an alginate/antacid (Gaviscon liquid) on symptoms and endoscopic changes over an 8-week period. Both treatments significantly improved heartburn, acid regurgitation and flatulence. Dimethicone/antacid but not alginate/antacid, produced a significant improvement in oesophagitis, oesophageal ulceration and histological grade of inflammation over the 8-week treatment period so that 14 patients treated with dimethicone/antacid and 10 with alginate/antacid had normal endoscopic oesophageal appearances at the end of the study. The difference in improvement between the two patient groups did not reach significance however, except for dimethicone/antacid improving histological changes (P less than 0.05). These findings suggest that dimethicone/antacid and alginate/antacid are equally effective in treating symptomatic reflux oesophagitis although dimethicone/antacid may have an advantage in improving oesophageal histological appearances.