GASTRO-ESOPHAGEAL REFLUX DISEASE AND ITS IMPACT ON TRACHEO-ESOPHAGEAL SPEAKING VALVE REHABILITATION AFTER TOTAL LARYNGECTOMY
Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a pathological entity in which the mixture of gastric contents (with low pH because of the high content of HCl acid) and biliary juice (rich in proteolytic enzymes like pepsin and trypsin) causes lesions on the mucosa lining the esophagus. A higher prevalence of GERD was discovered in patients who had a total laryngectomy. Concerning laryngectomies with tracheo-esophageal speaking valves, it has been demonstrated that GERD is an independent risk factor for failure of this method of speech rehabilitation. The authors performed an analysis of English language articles found following a search of the major medical scientific databases (NCBI®, EMBASE®, Cochrane®) containing the following keyword string: vocal prosthesis, total laryngectomy, GERD, acid reflux, tracheo-esophageal fistula, failure. Studies showed that exposure to the protelolytic enzymes from the reflux juice increases the diameter of the tracheo-esophageal fistula and permits local granulation tissue to form. Progressively, the increasing fistula diameter leads to complications ranging from microaspiration of liquids and saliva to speaking valve expulsion or ingestion and temporary incapacity of oral feeding. Medical therapy in the postoperative period as well as long-term (6 months or more) correction of GERD (PPI therapy, H2 blockers, prokinetics) is also demonstrated to reduce the complication rate in this category of patients. GERD has a high prevalence in the total laryngectomy population of patients and it has multiple etiologic factors. In patients with tracheoesophageal vocal prostheses, GERD causes an increase in the fistula diameter – with important consequences that affect the patient's quality of life - his ability to phonate and his ability to swallow. These complications come with added costs because of the need to more frequently change the vocal prostheses with ones increasing in diameter, as well as multiple hospitalizations (even surgery to recalibrate or close the tracheo-esophageal fistula). Recognizing and treating this condition therefore decreases the risk of complications following vocal prosthesis speech rehabilitation.