What are esophageal motility disorders?

Updated: Dec 29, 2017
  • Author: Eric A Gaumnitz, MD; Chief Editor: Praveen K Roy, MD, AGAF  more...
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Answer

The esophagus functions solely to deliver food from the mouth to the stomach where the process of digestion can begin. Efficient transport by the esophagus requires a coordinated, sequential motility pattern that propels food from above and clears acid and bile reflux from below. Disruption of this highly integrated muscular motion limits delivery of food and fluid, as well as causes a bothersome sense of dysphagia and chest pain. Disorders of esophageal motility are referred to as primary or secondary esophageal motility disorders and categorized according to their abnormal manometric patterns. See the images below.

The typical picture of achalasia. Note the "bird-b The typical picture of achalasia. Note the "bird-beak" appearance of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), with a dilated, barium-filled esophagus proximal to it. Image courtesy of Andrew Taylor, MD, Professor, Abdominal Imaging, Department of Radiology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison.
The response to amyl nitrate (a smooth muscle rela The response to amyl nitrate (a smooth muscle relaxant), with partial relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allows some barium to pass through it into the stomach. Image courtesy of Andrew Taylor, MD, Professor, Abdominal Imaging, Department of Radiology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison.
Esophagram of a 65-year-old man with rapid-onset d Esophagram of a 65-year-old man with rapid-onset dysphagia over 1 year. Although esophagram shows a typical picture of achalasia, this patient had adenocarcinoma of the gastroesophageal junction. This is an example of pseudoachalasia, which reinforces the absolute need for esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) in patients with radiologic diagnosis of achalasia. Image courtesy of Andrew Taylor, MD, Professor, Abdominal Imaging, Department of Radiology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison.
An esophagram demonstrating the corkscrew esophagu An esophagram demonstrating the corkscrew esophagus picture observed in a patient with manometry confirmed findings of diffuse esophageal spasm (DES). Image courtesy of Andrew Taylor, MD, Professor, Abdominal Imaging, Department of Radiology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison.
Response to amyl nitrate, with disappearance of th Response to amyl nitrate, with disappearance of the spasm on esophagram. Image courtesy of Andrew Taylor, MD, Professor, Abdominal Imaging, Department of Radiology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison.

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