Abnormal esophageal acid exposure on high-dose proton pump inhibitor therapy is common in systemic sclerosis patients

E. K. Stern*, D. A. Carlson, S. Falmagne, A. D. Hoffmann, M. Carns, J. E. Pandolfino, M. Hinchcliff, D. M. Brenner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Esophageal dysfunction and gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) are common among patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). Although high-dose proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) typically normalize esophageal acid exposure, the effectiveness of PPI therapy has not been systematically studied in SSc patients. The aim of this study was to characterize reflux in SSc patients on high-dose PPI using esophageal pH-impedance testing. Methods: In this case-controlled retrospective analysis, 38 patients fulfilling 2013 American College of Rheumatology SSc criteria who underwent esophageal pH-impedance testing on twice-daily PPI between January 2014 and March 2017 at a tertiary referral center were compared with a control-cohort of 38 non-SSc patients matched for PPI formulation and dose, hiatal hernia size, age, and gender. Patient clinical characteristics, including endoscopy and high-resolution manometry findings, were assessed via chart review. Key Results: On pH-impedance, SSc patients had higher acid exposure times (AETs) than controls. Sixty-one percent of the SSc patients and 18% of the control patients had a total AET ≥4.5% (P <.001). Systemic sclerosis patients also had significantly longer AETs, longer median bolus clearance, and lower nocturnal impedance values. Conclusions & Inferences: Abnormal esophageal acid exposure despite high-dose PPI therapy was common among patients with SSc. The lack of increased reflux episodes in the SSc patients, and longer bolus clearance times and lower nocturnal impedance, supports ineffective clearance as the potential mechanism. Systemic sclerosis patients may require adjunctive therapies to PPIs to control acid reflux.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13247
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • acid suppression
  • esophageal dysfunction
  • proton pump inhibition
  • reflux disease
  • scleroderma
  • systemic sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Gastroenterology


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