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Am J Med. 1986 Sep;81(3):447-50.

Hiatus hernia and esophageal contraction abnormalities.


The relationship of hiatus hernia to esophageal motility pattern was examined in patients referred for evaluation of esophageal symptoms. Results from standard esophageal motility studies were compared with findings on barium radiography of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Of 169 patients without radiographic evidence of esophagitis, 53 (31 percent) had normal motility of the esophageal body, whereas 116 (69 percent) demonstrated esophageal contraction abnormalities, a classification that includes the pattern of diffuse esophageal spasm at the severest extreme. Hiatus hernia was significantly more common in those with contraction abnormalities (25 percent) than in those with normal patterns (8 percent) (p = 0.01). Hiatus hernia increased in prevalence with increasing severity of contraction abnormalities, such that hiatus hernia was present in nearly half of patients with the pattern typifying diffuse esophageal spasm. Thus, hiatus hernia and esophageal contraction abnormalities are associated once other associations with hiatus hernia (e.g., esophagitis and scleroderma) have been excluded. These findings may help explain the recognized relationship of esophageal symptoms to hiatus hernia in patients without significant gastroesophageal reflux.

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