Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Gerd Introduction

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Gastroesophageal reflux (chalasia, cardiochalasia) is the return of gastric contents into the esophagus and possibly the pharynx. It is caused by dysfunction of the cardiac sphincter at the esophagus-stomach juncture. Reasons for this incompetence include an increase of pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter; following esophageal surgery; or immature lower esophageal neuromuscular function. The result of the persistent reflux is inflammation, esophagitis, and bleeding causing possible anemia and damage to the structure of the esophagus as scarring occurs. It also may predispose to aspiration of stomach contents causing aspiration pneumonia and chronic pulmonary conditions. Most commonly affected are infants and young children. As the condition becomes more severe or does not respond to medical treatment and the child experiences failure to thrive, surgical fundoplication to create a valve mechanism or other procedures may be done to correct the condition.

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