Psychological factors play a role in a variety of gastrointestinal illness, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Their impact on the surgical outcomes of antireflux surgery is unknown.
This is a single institution prospective controlled trial, comparing patients undergoing a laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication for GERD (LNF Group, n = 17) to patients undergoing an elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy for biliary colic (Control Group, n = 10). All patients had a psychological assessment before surgery, at 3 months and 6 months after surgery (i.e. Symptom CheckList-90-R somatization subset (SCL-90-R), Depression Anxiety Stress Scales, Anxiety sensitivity index, Illness attitude scale and Beck Depression Inventory II). GERD symptoms were recorded in the LNF Group using a standardized questionnaire (score 0–60). Patients with post-operative GERD symptoms score above 12 at 6 months were evaluated specifically. Statistical analysis was performed using a Student T test, and statistical significance was set at 0.05.
There was no significant difference in preoperative and postoperative psychological assessment between the two groups. In the LNF Group, 7 patients had persisting GERD symptoms at 6 months (GERD score greater than 12). The preoperative SCL-90-R score was also significantly higher in this subgroup, when compared to the rest of the LNF Group (18.2 versus 8.3, p < 0.05) and to the Control Group (18.2 versus 7.9, p < 0.05). There was no significant difference for the other psychological tests.
The SCL-90-R Somatization Subset, reflecting the level of somatization in a patient, may be useful to predict poor outcomes after antireflux surgery. Cognisance of psychological disorders could improve the selection of an optimal treatment for GERD and help reduce the rate of ongoing symptoms after LNF.