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Multiple rapid swallow responses segregate achalasia subtypes on high-resolution manometry


Address for Correspondence
C. Prakash Gyawali, Professor of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, 660 S. Euclid Avenue, Campus Box 8124, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.
Tel: +314 454 8201; fax: +314 454 5107;


Background  Multiple rapid swallows (MRS) inhibit esophageal peristalsis and lower esophageal sphincter (LES) tone; a rebound excitatory response then results in an exaggerated peristaltic sequence. Multiple rapid swallows responses are dependent on intact inhibitory and excitatory neural function and could vary by subtype in achalasia spectrum disorders.

Methods  Consecutive subjects with incomplete LES relaxation on high-resolution manometry (HRM) (Sierra Scientific, Los Angeles, CA, USA) in the absence of mechanical obstruction were prospectively identified. Achalasia spectrum disorders were classified and HRM plots reviewed according to Chicago criteria. Esophageal peristaltic performance and LES function were assessed after 10 wet swallows and MRS (five 2 mL water swallows 2–3 s apart). Findings were compared with 18 healthy controls (28.5 ± 0.6 years, 44% women).

Key Results  A total of 46 subjects (57.1 ± 2.1 years, 52.2% women) met inclusion criteria. There was complete failure of peristalsis with MRS in all subjects with achalasia subtypes 1 and 2. In contrast, 80% of achalasia subtype 3 and incomplete LES relaxation (EGJ outflow obstruction) with preserved esophageal body peristalsis had a contractile response to MRS (P < 0.001 compared with subtypes 1 and 2); controls demonstrated 94.4% peristalsis. Percent decrease in LES residual pressure during MRS (compared to wet swallows) segregated achalasia subtypes; those with aperistalsis (subtypes 1 and 2) had a lesser decline (22.6%) compared to those with retained esophageal body peristalsis (40.5%) and controls (51.3%, P < 0.001 across groups).

Conclusions & Inferences  Multiple rapid swallow responses segregate achalasia spectrum disorders into two patterns differentiated by presence or absence of esophageal body contraction response to wet swallows. These findings support subtyping of achalasia, with pathophysiologic implications.