Failure to respond to physiologic challenge characterizes esophageal motility in erosive gastro-esophageal reflux disease


Address for Correspondence
Prof. Mark Fox, Nottingham Digestive Diseases Centre and British Research Unit, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, NG7 2UH, United Kingdom.
Tel: +44 (0)115 9249924 ext 70608; fax: +44 (0)115 8231409; e-mail:


Background  Non-specific esophageal dysmotility with impaired clearance is often present in patients with gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), especially those with erosive disease; however the physio-mechanic basis of esophageal dysfunction is not well defined.

Methods  Retrospective assessment of patients with erosive reflux disease (ERD; n = 20) and endoscopy negative reflux disease (ENRD; n = 20) with pathologic acid exposure on pH studies (>4.2% time/24 h) and also healthy controls (n = 20) studied by high resolution manometry. Esophageal motility in response to liquid and solid bolus swallows and multiple water swallows (MWS) was analyzed. Peristaltic dysfunction was defined as failed peristalsis, spasm, weak or poorly coordinated esophageal contraction (>3 cm break in 30 mmHg isocontour).

Key Results  Peristaltic dysfunction was present in 33% of water swallows in controls, 56% ENRD and 76% ERD respectively (P < 0.023 vs controls, P = 0.185 vs ENRD). The proportion of effective peristaltic contractions improved with solid compared to liquid bolus in controls (18%vs 33%, P = 0.082) and ENRD (22%vs 54%, P = 0.046) but not ERD (62%vs 76%, P = 0.438). Similarly, MWS was followed by effective peristalsis in 83% of controls and 70% ENRD but only 30% ERD patients (P < 0.017 vs controls and P < 0.031 vs ENRD). The association between acid exposure and dysmotility was closer for solid than liquid swallows (r = 0.52 vs 0.27).

Conclusions & Inferences  Peristaltic dysfunction is common in GERD. ERD patients are characterized by a failure to respond to the physiologic challenge of solid bolus and MWS that is likely also to impair clearance following reflux events and increase exposure to gastric refluxate.