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Am J Gastroenterol. 2013 Jan;108(1):49-55. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2012.318. Epub 2012 Sep 25.

Esophageal stasis on a timed barium esophagogram predicts recurrent symptoms in patients with long-standing achalasia.

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Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



In achalasia, early recognition of the need for retreatment is of crucial importance to reduce morbidity and long-term complications such as esophageal decompensation. In clinical practice, symptoms and parameters of esophageal function including lower esophageal sphincter (LES) pressure and esophageal emptying are used to decide whether additional treatment is required. However, which of these tests performs best remains unclear.


A cohort of 41 patients with long-standing achalasia (median 17 years), underwent esophageal manometry, timed barium esophagogram and symptom evaluation. Patients were followed up for 10 years, and were regarded as a therapeutic failure if Eckardt score was >3 or when retreatment was needed. Predictors of therapeutic failure were evaluated.


Of the 41 included patients, 7 patients had an elevated LES pressure (>10 mm Hg) and 26 had esophageal stasis >5 cm on timed barium esophagogram. During follow-up, 25 patients had recurrence of symptoms and were considered therapeutic failures. Of the 25 patients, 5 had an elevated LES pressure, whereas 22 had esophageal stasis on barium esophagogram. Hence, the sensitivity to predict the need of retreatment is higher for esophageal stasis (88%) compared with LES pressure (20%). A total of 16 patients (39%) were in long-term remission, of which 12 patients (75%) did not have stasis at their initial visit.


In contrast to LES pressure, esophageal stasis is a good predictor of treatment failure in patients with long-standing achalasia. Based on these findings, we propose to use timed barium esophagogram rather than esophageal manometry as test to decide on retreatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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