Background and study aims: Although minimal changes are one of the endoscopic findings of nonerosive reflux disease (NERD), the clinical significance of minimal changes is controversial. This study evaluated the clinical significance of minimal changes and examined whether such changes have diagnostic value in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Patients and methods: The endoscopic findings were assessed from 1445 patients identified as having minimal changes who were seen across 30 institutions between April and September 2009. Six endoscopic criteria reported to have acceptable-to-good agreement between endoscopists were used for assessing minimal changes: erythema, blurring of the Z-line, friability, decreased vascularity, white turbid discoloration, and edema or accentuation of the mucosal folds. The diagnosis of GERD was based on the GerdQ, a questionnaire for identifying GERD among patients with upper gastrointestinal symptoms. Results: Of the 1445 patients, 44.5 % were categorized into the GERD group based on the GerdQ. No significant differences in clinical characteristics were found between the GERD and non-GERD groups, except in age and height. Blurring of the Z-line and erythema were the most common endoscopic findings of minimal changes in this study. Only one of the six findings (16.7 %) was more common in the GERD group than in the non-GERD group. Using more than one endoscopic finding was not more useful for identifying GERD than using only one endoscopic finding. Conclusions: Most of the endoscopic findings indicating minimal changes are not associated with GERD. The clinical significance of minimal changes should be reconsidered.
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