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Am J Gastroenterol. 1999 Jul;94(7):1802-7.

Assessment of esophageal emptying post-pneumatic dilation: use of the timed barium esophagram.

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1
Center for Swallowing and Esophageal Disorders, Department of Gastroenterology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio 44195, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

The reported success rate of pneumatic dilation in patients with achalasia varies from 50% to 93%. This wide variability may be due to using symptom relief post-dilation as the only assessment of success. There are no studies comparing subjective symptom improvements to objective improvement in esophageal emptying after pneumatic dilation.

METHODS:

Patients with achalasia undergoing pneumatic dilation from 1995 to 1997 were evaluated. Pre- and post-dilation symptoms were recorded using a standardized scoring system. Barium column height was measured 1 min and 5 min after upright ingestion to assess esophageal emptying. Based on percentage of total symptom and barium height improvement post-dilation, patients were grouped according to one of nine outcomes; the association between subjective and objective parameters of improvement was tested.

RESULTS:

A total of 37 patients underwent 53 pneumatic dilations. There was a significant association (p < 0.001) between improvement in patient symptoms and barium height. In 38 of 53 (72%) pneumatic dilations, the degree of symptom and barium height improvement was similar. Near complete symptom resolution was reported after 26 dilations. In eight of 26 (31%) patients however, there was < 50% improvement in barium height (group A). Compared with the 16 patients with 91-100% improvement in both symptoms and barium height (group B), forward stepwise regression identified age as the only difference between the two groups, with group A patients being significantly (p = 0.04) older.

CONCLUSIONS:

Objective assessment of esophageal emptying pre- and post-dilation identifies an important subset of patients with poor esophageal emptying who report near complete symptom resolution. This group may benefit from any early repeat pneumatic dilation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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