Reflux esophagitis is a chronic process associated with frequent episodes of relapse in many patients. In addition, the disease may be progressive in at least some patients. Erosion of the esophageal mucosa precedes the development of some of the complications of the condition. There is accumulating evidence that continuous treatment of patients with erosive esophagitis effectively maintains symptomatic remission and absence of esophageal erosions. Whether such treatment will prevent the development of complications has not yet been demonstrated. We investigated a number of questions concerning the natural history and complications of erosive esophagitis and the need for maintenance treatment for patients with severe manifestations of disease as well as the impact of continuous maintenance treatment on the natural history of reflux esophagitis and its complications.
(Arch Intern Med. 1995;155:1465-1471)