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J Gastrointest Surg. 2003 Jul-Aug;7(5):692-700.

The hypertensive lower esophageal sphincter: a motility disorder with manometric features of outflow obstruction.

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Department of Surgery, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, USA.


The aim of this study was to define the clinical presentation, motility characteristics, and prevalence and patterns of gastroesophageal reflux in patients with hypertensive lower esophageal sphincter (HTLES). HTLES was defined by a resting pressure measured at the respiratory inversion point on stationary manometry of greater than 26 mm Hg (ninety-fifth percentile of normal). One hundred consecutive patients (80 women, 20 men; mean age 54.7 years, range 23 to 89 years), diagnosed with HTLES at our institution between September 1996 and October 1999, were studied. Patients with achalasia or other named esophageal motility disorders or history of foregut surgery were excluded, but patients with both HTLES and "nutcracker esophagus" were included. The most common symptoms in patients with HTLES were regurgitation (75%), heartburn (71%), dysphagia (71%), and chest pain (49%). The most common primary presenting symptoms were heartburn and dysphagia. The intrabolus pressure, which is a manometric measure of outflow obstruction, was significantly higher in patients with HTLES compared to normal volunteers. The residual pressure measured during LES relaxation induced by a water swallow was also significantly higher than in normal persons. There were no significant associations between any of the relaxation parameters studied (residual pressure, nadir pressure, duration of relaxation, time to residual pressure) and either the presence or severity of any symptoms or the presence of abnormal esophageal acid exposure. Seventy-three patients underwent 24-hour pH monitoring, and 26% had increased distal esophageal acid exposure. Compared to a cohort of patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease but no HTLES (n=300), the total and supine periods of distal esophageal acid exposure were significantly lower in the patients with HTLES and abnormal acid exposure. Patients with HTLES frequently present with moderately severe dysphagia and typical reflux symptoms. Approximately one quarter of them have abnormal esophageal acid exposure on pH monitoring. Patients with HTLES have significantly elevated intrabolus and residual relaxation pressures on liquid boluses, suggesting that outflow obstruction is present.

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