Short Course of Omeprazole: A Better First Diagnostic Approach to Noncardiac Chest Pain Than Endoscopy, Manometry, or 24-Hour Esophageal pH Monitoring

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Noncardiac chest pain (NCCP) presents as a frequent diagnostic challenge, with patients tending to use a disproportionate level of health care resources. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the most frequent cause of NCCP.GoalsTo test the efficacy of a potent acid-suppressing agent as a diagnostic test in the evaluation of NCCP and to compare it with three commonly used tests.StudyEighteen men and 24 women, aged 22 to 77 years, who presented with recurrent chest pain complaints of a noncardiac etiology, as determined by rest/stress perfusion imaging with technetium Tc99m sestamibi (MIBI), were enrolled in a prospective, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover trial using high-dose omeprazole. Thirty-seven patients completed both arms of the trial. Findings were compared with those of endoscopy, manometry, and ambulatory 24-hour two-channel esophageal pH monitoring. All patients underwent initial diagnostic upper endoscopy, esophageal manometry, and 24-hour pH monitoring. Patients were then randomly assigned to either placebo or omeprazole (40 mg/d orally twice daily) for 14 days, washed out for 21 days, and then crossed over. Patient's symptoms were determined using a Visual Analogue Scale to measure the severity of chest pain before and after each period.ResultsSeventy-one percent of patients in the omeprazole arm reported improved chest pain, whereas only 18% in the placebo arm did. Abnormal results on manometry (20%), 24-hour pH monitoring (42%), or endoscopy with visual evidence of esophagitis (26%) were found less frequently. Combination of the three tests did not significantly increase their usefulness. In NCCP patients with GERD, as defined by positive results on a 24-hour pH test or presence of esophagitis on endoscopy, omeprazole treatment led to a response in 95% of patients, whereas 90% of GERD-positive patients treated with placebo did not respond. Of NCCP patients determined to be GERD negative, 39% responded to omeprazole.ConclusionsOmeprazole as a first diagnostic tool in the evaluation of MIBI-negative NCCP is sensitive and specific for determining the cause of NCCP. Endoscopy, manometry, and 24-hour pH monitoring were not only less sensitive in diagnosing NCCP, but they were significantly more expensive.

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