Pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment of non-erosive reflux disease (NERD)

Alfredo Papa, Riccardo Urgesi, Antonino Grillo, Silvio Danese, Simona Guglielmo, Italia Roberto, Giuseppe Fedeli, Antonio Gasbarrini, Giovanni Battista Gasbarrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


Up to 70% of patients with typical symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) have neither definite endoscopic oesophageal breaks nor Barrett's oesophagus at upper endoscopy. These patients suffer from non-erosive reflux disease (NERD), also termed endoscopy-negative reflux disease or symptomatic GERD. NERD patients appear as a heterogeneous population with multiple and substantially different mechanisms implicated in the genesis of symptoms. In fact, patients with NERD may be divided into 3 groups on the basis of 24-hour pH monitoring: 1) patients with an abnormal acid exposure time (AET); 2) patients who demonstrate a normal AET, but in whom symptoms and reflux events are significantly correlated (hypersensitive oesophagus) and 3) patients with typical reflux symptoms but in whom all parameters of the pH study are normal. There is no gold standard for the diagnosis of NERD but a well-taken history can be, usually, sufficient to confirm the diagnosis and begin therapy. Thus, the more sensitive tool for the diagnosis of NERD is proton pump-inhibitor (PPI) test. The aims of NERD treatment are: symptoms relieve, restore quality of life and maintain clinical remission. Proton pump-inhibitors (PPIs) in full doses represent the treatment of choice of NERD patients, even if overall, clinical trials showed a lower efficacy in symptoms control when compared to patients with erosive oesophagitis. Patients with NERD often need long-term therapy for symptoms control. ''On demand'' PPI therapy has been considered as the most cost-effective strategy for the long-term treatment of NERD. In conclusion, many data indicate that NERD is a disorder in its own right that shares symptoms with other GERD groups. However further studies are needed to better define the natural history and improve the treatment of this disorder.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-226
Number of pages12
JournalMinerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Algorithms
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Humans
  • Proton Pumps


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