Background Current understanding is that swallow induces simultaneous inhibition of the entire esophagus followed by a sequential wave of contraction (peristalsis). We observed a pattern of luminal distension preceding contraction which suggested that inhibition may also traverses in a peristaltic fashion. Our aim is to determine the relationship between contraction and luminal distension during bolus transport.
Methods Eight subjects using two solid-state pressure and two ultrasound (US) transducers were studied. Synchronous pressure and US images were obtained with wet swallows and after edrophonium and atropine. Luminal cross-sectional area (CSA) at 2 cm and 12 cm above the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) were recorded. Relationship between pressure and CSA at each site, propagation velocity of peak pressure and peak distension waves were determined. Fluoroscopy coupled with manometry was also performed in five normal subjects.
Key Results Esophageal distension precedes contraction wave at both-recorded sites. During distension, esophageal pressure remains constant while luminal CSA increases significantly. The onset and the peak of distension wave traverses in a peristaltic fashion between both sites. A tight coupling exists between the peak distension and peak contraction waves with similar velocities (3.7 cm s−1 and 3.6 cm s−1) of propagation. The degree of distension is greater at 2 cm compared to 12 cm. Atropine and edrophonium reduced and increased the contraction pressure respectively, without affecting the distension wave. Fluoroscopic study confirmed that the wave of distension traverses the esophagus in a peristaltic fashion.
Conclusions & Inferences Distension and contraction waves are tightly coupled to each other and both traverse in a peristaltic fashion.