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Am J Gastroenterol. 1993 Feb;88(2):187-92.

Chest pain associated with nutcracker esophagus: a preliminary study of the role of gastroesophageal reflux.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Florida Health Science Center, Jacksonville.


A review of our 402 motility records of patients undergoing evaluation of noncardiac chest pain identified 40 patients with the diagnosis of nutcracker esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux was found in 13 of 20 patients (65%) who underwent pH studies, and endoscopy detected one patient with erosive esophagitis. Thus, at least 14 (35%) of our nutcracker esophagus patients had evidence of reflux. Twelve of these subjects agreed to enter an open-label therapeutic trial. After 8 wk of intensive antireflux treatment with high doses of ranitidine or omeprazole, repeat 24-h pH studies and endoscopy demonstrated normalization of pH parameters and healing of esophagitis in all patients. Ten (83%) patients obtained significant symptomatic improvement in frequency of pain episodes, number of days with pain, and pain severity. However, repeat manometry showed normalization of motor findings in only two (18%) patients. These observations warrant further placebo-controlled trials. Until more information is available, the results of this study suggest that gastroesophageal reflux should be excluded in patients with noncardiac chest pain and nutcracker esophagus before initiation of smooth muscle relaxant therapy.

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