The Visick score: a good measure for the overall effect of antireflux surgery?

Rijnhart-De Jong HG, Draaisma WA, Smout AJ, Broeders IA, Gooszen HG.

In scoring the outcome of antireflux surgery, it is extremely difficult to combine the effect on reflux symptoms and esophageal acid exposure in one and the same single system - the Visick score revisited. The aim of this study was to correlate subjective outcome variables and objective outcome variables in an attempt to come to an overall reproducible scoring system.

From 1997 to 1999, a randomized trial was set up to compare 98 patients who had undergone laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication (LNF) with 79 patients treated with conventional Nissen fundoplication (CNF). All patients were requested to complete a questionnaire, before and 3, 6, 12, 24 and 60 months after surgery. A subgroup of 87 patients agreed to undergo objective evaluation by pH-metry. The results of all these assessments were correlated with the effect of surgery on the Visick score.

After LNF and CNF, 79 and 69 patients, respectively, completed the questionnaires. After 5 years, complaints about heartburn, regurgitation and dysphagia were still significantly improved in the majority of patients, but in these groups, 6, 3 and 27% of patients, respectively, experienced deterioration. Visick score I or II (complaints resolved or improved) was recorded by 87% of patients. The Visick score correlated with the reduction of postoperative reflux symptom grades for heartburn, but not with the reduction of regurgitation, dysphagia and esophageal acid exposure.

Although this study shows that the Visick score can be applied to monitor the subjective effect of primary antireflux surgery as it correlates well with the most prominent symptom of GERD (heartburn), it also underlines the difficulty in adequately scoring symptomatic outcome of antireflux surgery.