BACKGROUND: Studies revealed the symptom of gastroesophageal reflux (GE reflux) disturb patients following esophageal reconstruction. OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of head-of-bed elevation by using the wedge-shaped pillow (WSP) on the reflux symptoms of patients with esophageal cancer following esophagectomy and reconstruction. METHODS: Fourteen patients with nocturnal reflux symptoms following esophagectomy and gastric tube reconstruction were enrolled and randomized into 2 groups. A 2-week crossover trial was performed using 2 sequences (drug only and drug plus WSP). The WSP was designed with a height of 20 cm, a length of 62 cm, and an elevation angle of 20 degrees and used with fabricated from memory foam. After 2 weeks, all of the patients received combined drug and WSP intervention for 3 months. Reflux symptoms were measured by Dysfunction After Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery for Cancer and examined by endoscopic observations prior to intervention and follow-up for 3 months. RESULT: The average reflux symptom score for the combined drug and WSP treatment in the beginning 2 weeks was lower than that for the drug-only sequence. The severity of esophagitis was improved in 46.1%, and 38.5% showed a stabilization after 3 months. CONCLUSIONS: Combined drug and WSP treatment may be beneficial in improving GE reflux symptoms. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Nursing care professionals would suggest patients find a similar WSP to elevate the head of the bed to reduce the severity of nocturnal reflux symptoms after esophagectomy and gastric tube reconstruction.
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