Background

Asymptomatic low-grade (Los Angeles Classification Grades A and B) esophagitis is common in clinical practice with unclear clinical outcomes. This study aimed to explore the clinical outcomes of asymptomatic low-grade esophagitis.

Methods

This was a multicenter cohort study conducted by three academic hospitals in China. Asymptomatic low-grade esophagitis patients between January 2015 and December 2019 were included. Mucosal healing condition 1 year after initial diagnosis, symptom outcomes, and proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) use within 1 year after initial diagnosis were studied and compared.

Results

A total of 248 asymptomatic low-grade esophagitis patients were included. Esophagitis disappeared in 76.2% of patients 1 year after initial diagnosis. In terms of symptom outcomes, 89.9% of patients did not present gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms within 1 year after initial diagnosis. No significant difference was found in the proportion of patients who presented GERD symptoms and in the proportion of patients with persistent esophagitis between the PPI group and the non-PPI group (all P >0.05). Patients with initial Grade B esophagitis were more likely to present follow-up GERD symptoms (16.0% vs 7.5%, P =0.041) and had more severe follow-up esophagitis than those with Grade A (P <0.001). Patients with follow-up GERD symptoms were more likely to have persistent esophagitis than those without.

Conclusions

This study demonstrated that asymptomatic low-grade esophagitis had relatively benign clinical outcomes. Patients with initial Grade B esophagitis and patients with follow-up GERD symptoms were more likely to be those who are in genuine need of further follow-up and treatments.

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