• effortful swallow;
  • esophageal;
  • impedance;
  • manometry;
  • pharyngeal


Background  Treatment for esophageal dysmotility is currently limited to primarily pharmacologic intervention, which has questionable utility and frequently associated negative side effects. A potential behavioral intervention for esophageal dysmotility is the effortful oropharyngeal swallow. A previous pilot study using water perfusion manometry found an increase in distal esophageal amplitudes during effortful vs non-effortful swallowing. The current study sought to duplicate the previous study with improvements in methodology.

Methods  The effects of swallow condition (effortful vs non-effortful), sensor site, and gender on esophageal amplitude, duration, velocity, and bolus clearance were examined for 18 adults (nine males and nine females, mean age = 29.9 years) via combined solid-state manometry and intraluminal impedance.

Key Results  The effortful swallow condition yielded significantly higher esophageal amplitudes across all sensor locations (P < 0.05). Further, the effortful swallowing decreased the risk of incomplete bolus clearance when compared with non-effortful swallowing (OR: 0.51; 95% CI: 0.30–0.86).

Conclusions & Inferences  With improved manometric instrumentation, larger participant numbers, and methodology that controlled for potential confounding factors, this study confirms and advances the results of the previous pilot study: Volitional manipulation of the oropharyngeal phase of swallowing using the effortful swallow indeed affects esophageal physiology. Thus, the effortful swallow offers a behavioral manipulation of the esophageal phase of swallowing, and future studies will determine its clinical potential for treating esophageal dysmotility in patient populations.