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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2006 Jun;290(6):G1149-56. Epub 2006 Jan 26.

Common cavity pressure during gastroesophageal reflux: reassessment using simultaneous pressure, impedance, and ultrasound imaging.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, University of California, San Diego, 92161, USA.


An increase in intraesophageal pressure during transient lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxation [referred to as common cavity (CC) pressure] is thought to be a marker of gastroesophageal reflux (GER). Multiluminal impedance (MII) measurement is a sensitive marker of reflux entry into the esophagus during GER. We recorded GER using esophageal pressure, pH, impedance, and intraluminal ultrasound (US) images to understand the genesis of the esophageal CC pressure. Nine normal subjects underwent simultaneous MII/pH/pressure and US image recording of the esophagus for 2 h following a standardized meal. MII and pressure transducers were located at 5 and 15 cm above the LES. The US transducer and pH sensors were also placed at 5 cm above the LES. Refluxate entry into the esophagus by MII criteria was determined relative to the onset of CC pressure wave. Esophageal lumen cross-sectional area (CSA) and muscle CSA during GER were determined from the US images. Eighty liquid GER episodes identified using MII criteria, of which 55 were clearly associated with CC pressure waves, were analyzed. The GER reached 15 cm above LES in 49 of 55 (89%) by MII criteria, but the CC pressure wave was observed at 5 and 15 cm during all episodes. The propagation of the CC pressure wave was simultaneous between 5 and 15 cm during 49 of 55 (89%) of the GER episodes, but reflux entry by MII criteria was retrograde during 53 of 55 (96%) of these episodes. During 5 air-reflux episodes, MII showed a simultaneous reflux entry between the 5- and 15-cm site, however, the CC pressure preceded reflux entry during all of these episodes. There was poor correlation between the luminal CSA and the magnitude of CC pressure (R(2) = 0.144). US images revealed a close temporal correlation between CC pressure and the increase in esophageal muscle thickness and muscle CSA (markers of longitudinal muscle contraction). Disassociation between CC pressure and MII-detected reflux suggests that the onset of CC pressure is not due to GER. We speculate that longitudinal muscle contraction plays an important role in the genesis of CC pressure.

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