Esophageal motility disorder

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Esophageal motility disorder
Other namesEsophageal dysmotility (ED)
Diagnostic methodEsophageal motility study
Functional Lumen Imaging Probe
Treatmenttreatment depends on cause

An esophageal motility disorder (EMD) is any medical disorder resulting from dysfunction of the coordinated movement of esophagus, which causes dysphagia (i.e. difficulty in swallowing, regurgitation of food).[1]

Primary Motility Disorders are:[1]

An esophageal motility disorder can also be secondary to other diseases.[1] For example, it may be a result of CREST syndrome, referring to the five main features: calcinosis, Raynaud syndrome, esophageal dysmotility, sclerodactyly and telangiectasia.[2]


The most common symptom of esophageal motility disorders is dysphagia. Compared to causes of mechanical obstruction, which usually coincide with difficulties only with solids, dysphagia occurs in both solid foods and liquids. Heartburn, odynophagia, chest pain, and dyspnea are frequent symptoms of esophageal motility disorders, as they are in other esophageal disorders. Advanced achalasia is characterized by regurgitation of previously swallowed, undigested food material. Individuals with diffuse esophageal spasm or nutcracker esophagus, due to disordered peristalsis propagation, may experience severe chest pain and dysphagia, mimicking cardiac ischemia.[3]

Achalasia's most common symptoms include dysphagia (difficulty swallowing solids and liquids), regurgitation of undigested food, respiratory issues (aspiration and nocturnal cough), chest pain, and weight loss.[4]

Diffuse esophageal spasm (DES) is a motility disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of chest pain or dysphagia as well as nonpropulsive (tertiary) contractions on radiographs.[5]

Nutcracker esophagus is characterized by high-amplitude peristaltic contractions that are frequently prolonged and cause dysphagia and chest pain.[6]

HLES (hypertensive lower esophageal sphincter) is a rare manometric abnormality seen among individuals with dysphagia, chest pain, gastroesophageal reflux, and/or hiatal hernia.[7]


Testing to diagnose EMD includes barium esophagography, upper endoscopy, and esophageal manometry.[8]


There is no cure for EMD, but symptoms can be managed. Some symptom management includes eating slower and taking smaller bites; in some cases medications can be useful to manage other issues that contribute to EMD such as a proton pump inhibitor to ease gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux), or a smooth muscle relaxant for issues with the muscles.[8]

See also[edit]

  • Functional Lumen Imaging Probe
  • References[edit]

    1. ^ a b c Goyal, Manjeet; Nagalli, Shivaraj (2023), "Esophageal Motility Disorders", StatPearls, Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, PMID 32965826, retrieved 2023-10-20
    2. ^ Winterbauer RH (1964). "Multiple telangiectasia, Raynaud's phenomenon, sclerodactyly, and subcutaneous calcinosis: a syndrome mimicking hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia". Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital 114: 31–83. PMID 14171636.
    3. ^ Guth, Todd A. (2013). "Esophageal Disorders". Emergency Medicine. Elsevier. p. 269–278.e1. doi:10.1016/b978-1-4377-3548-2.00031-8. ISBN 978-1-4377-3548-2. Retrieved November 18, 2023.
    4. ^ Boeckxstaens, G.E.E. (2007). "Achalasia". Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology. Elsevier BV. 21 (4): 595–608. doi:10.1016/j.bpg.2007.03.004. ISSN 1521-6918. Retrieved November 18, 2023.
    5. ^ Almansa, Cristina; Hinder, Ronald A.; Smith, C. Daniel; Achem, Sami R. (December 11, 2007). "A Comprehensive Appraisal of the Surgical Treatment of Diffuse Esophageal Spasm". Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery. Springer Science and Business Media LLC. 12 (6): 1133–1145. doi:10.1007/s11605-007-0439-x. ISSN 1091-255X. Retrieved November 18, 2023.
    6. ^ Horton, Marshall L.; Goff, John S. (1986). "Surgical treatment of nutcracker esophagus". Digestive Diseases and Sciences. Springer Science and Business Media LLC. 31 (8): 878–883. doi:10.1007/bf01296058. ISSN 0163-2116. Retrieved November 18, 2023.
    7. ^ Gad El-Hak, NabilA; Mostafa, Mohamed; AbdelHamid, Hussein; Haleem, Magdy (2006). "Hypertensive lower esophageal sphincter (HLES): Prevalence,symptoms genesis and effect of pneumatic balloon dilatation". Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology. Medknow. 12 (2): 77. doi:10.4103/1319-3767.27850. ISSN 1319-3767. Retrieved November 18, 2023.
    8. ^ a b McQuaid, Kenneth (2022). Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2022. McGraw Hill.

    External links[edit]