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Dig Dis Sci. 1991 Aug;36(8):1025-8.

Diffuse esophageal spasm. A rare motility disorder not characterized by high-amplitude contractions.

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Department of Medicine, Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27103.


Diffuse esophageal spasm (DES) has frequently been described as a motility disorder characterized by simultaneous, high-amplitude contractions. We reviewed the results of esophageal manometry testing on a total of 1480 patients referred to our lab over 36 months. Lower esophageal sphincter (LES) pressure was determined by a mean of four station pull-through. Esophageal body motility was assessed following 10 wet swallows. In our lab a diagnosis of DES is made when greater than 10% but less than 100% of contractions are simultaneous. Manometric findings of DES were rare, with an overall prevalence of 4% (56/1480). Of the 56 patients with a manometric diagnosis of DES, high-amplitude (mean greater than or equal to 180 mm Hg) peristaltic contractions were found in only two (4%). No simultaneous contractions with amplitude greater than or equal to 180 mm Hg were seen. Pressures of simultaneous contractions were consistently lower than peristaltic contractions. A hypertensive LES pressure (greater than or equal to 45 mm Hg) was present in 5/56 DES patients (9%). Poor LES relaxation was found in 7/56 DES patients (13%). We conclude that DES is a rare manometric finding, regardless of the reason for referral, and that the occurrence of high-amplitude contractions in DES is equally rare.

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