reflux, oesophagealmedical dictionary

A condition wherein stomach contents regurgitate or back up (reflux) into the oesophagus (a long cylindrical tube that transports food from the mouth to the stomach). The food in the stomach is partially digested by stomach acid and enzymes. Normally, the partially digested acid content in the stomach is delivered by the stomach muscle into the small intestine for further digestion. In oesophageal reflux, stomach acid content refluxes backwards up into the oesophagus, occasionally reaching the breathing passages, causing inflammation and damage to the oesophagus, as well as to the lung and larynx (the voice box). The overall process is medically termed gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (gerd). 10% of patients with gerd develop a barrett's oesophagus which can increase the risk of cancer of the oesophagus.

American spelling: reflux, esophageal

(12 Dec 1998)