Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is a common condition with 3% to 33% of people from different parts of the world suffering from GORD. There is considerable uncertainty about whether people with GORD should receive an operation or medical treatment for controlling the condition.
To assess the benefits and harms of laparoscopic fundoplication versus medical treatment for people with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.
We searched the Cochrane Upper Gastrointestinal and Pancreatic Diseases Group (UGPD) Trials Register (June 2015), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library Issue 6, 2015), Ovid MEDLINE (1966 to June 2015), and EMBASE (1980 to June 2015) to identify randomised controlled trials. We also searched the references of included trials to identify further trials.
We considered only randomised controlled trials (RCT) comparing laparoscopic fundoplication with medical treatment in people with GORD irrespective of language, blinding, or publication status for inclusion in the review.
Two review authors independently identified trials and independently extracted data. We calculated the risk ratio (RR) or standardised mean difference (SMD) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) using both fixed-effect and random-effects models with RevMan 5 based on available case analysis.
Four studies met the inclusion criteria for the review, and provided information on one or more outcomes for the review. A total of 1160 participants in the four RCTs were either randomly assigned to laparoscopic fundoplication (589 participants) or medical treatment with proton pump inhibitors (571 participants). All the trials included participants who had had reflux symptoms for at least six months and had received long-term acid suppressive therapy. All the trials included only participants who could undergo surgery if randomised to the surgery arm. All of the trials were at high risk of bias. The overall quality of evidence was low or very low. None of the trials reported long-term health-related quality of life (HRQoL) or GORD-specific quality of life (QoL).The difference between laparoscopic fundoplication and medical treatment was imprecise for overall short-term HRQOL (SMD 0.14, 95% CI -0.02 to 0.30; participants = 605; studies = 3), medium-term HRQOL (SMD 0.03, 95% CI -0.19 to 0.24; participants = 323; studies = 2), medium-term GORD-specific QoL (SMD 0.28, 95% CI -0.27 to 0.84; participants = 994; studies = 3), proportion of people with adverse events (surgery: 7/43 (adjusted proportion = 14.0%); medical: 0/40 (0.0%); RR 13.98, 95% CI 0.82 to 237.07; participants = 83; studies = 1), long-term dysphagia (surgery: 27/118 (adjusted proportion = 22.9%); medical: 28/110 (25.5%); RR 0.90, 95% CI 0.57 to 1.42; participants = 228; studies = 1), and long-term reflux symptoms (surgery: 29/118 (adjusted proportion = 24.6%); medical: 41/115 (35.7%); RR 0.69, 95% CI 0.46 to 1.03; participants = 233; studies = 1).The short-term GORD-specific QoL was better in the laparoscopic fundoplication group than in the medical treatment group (SMD 0.58, 95% CI 0.46 to 0.70; participants = 1160; studies = 4).The proportion of people with serious adverse events (surgery: 60/331 (adjusted proportion = 18.1%); medical: 38/306 (12.4%); RR 1.46, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.11; participants = 637; studies = 2), short-term dysphagia (surgery: 44/331 (adjusted proportion = 12.9%); medical: 11/306 (3.6%); RR 3.58, 95% CI 1.91 to 6.71; participants = 637; studies = 2), and medium-term dysphagia (surgery: 29/288 (adjusted proportion = 10.2%); medical: 5/266 (1.9%); RR 5.36, 95% CI 2.1 to 13.64; participants = 554; studies = 1) was higher in the laparoscopic fundoplication group than in the medical treatment group.The proportion of people with heartburn at short term (surgery: 29/288 (adjusted proportion = 10.0%); medical: 59/266 (22.2%); RR 0.45, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.69; participants = 554; studies = 1), medium term (surgery: 12/288 (adjusted proportion = 4.2%); medical: 59/266 (22.2%); RR 0.19, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.34; participants = 554; studies = 1), long term (surgery: 46/111 (adjusted proportion = 41.2%); medical: 78/106 (73.6%); RR 0.56, 95% CI 0.44 to 0.72); participants = 217; studies = 1) and those with reflux symptoms at short-term (surgery: 6/288 (adjusted proportion = 2.0%); medical: 53/266 (19.9%); RR 0.10, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.24; participants = 554; studies = 1) and medium term (surgery: 6/288 (adjusted proportion = 2.1%); medical: 37/266 (13.9%); RR 0.15, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.35; participants = 554; studies = 1) was less in the laparoscopic fundoplication group than in the medical treatment group.
There is considerable uncertainty in the balance of benefits versus harms of laparoscopic fundoplication compared to long-term medical treatment with proton pump inhibitors. Further RCTs of laparoscopic fundoplication versus medical management in patients with GORD should be conducted with outcome-assessor blinding and should include all participants in the analysis. Such trials should include long-term patient-orientated outcomes such as treatment-related adverse events (including severity), quality of life, and also report on the social and economic impact of the adverse events and symptoms.