• diffuse esophageal spasm;
  • esophageal manometry;
  • esophageal motility disorder;
  • lower esophageal sphincter;
  • symptom


Diffuse esophageal spasm (DES) has been reported as a potential cause of dysphagia or chest pain; however, the patho-physiology of DES is unclear. The aim of this study was to examine the manometric correlates of dysphagia and chest pain in this patient population. All patients undergoing manometry at our institution are entered into a prospectively maintained database. After institutional review board approval, the database was queried to identify patients meeting criteria for DES (≥20% simultaneous waves with greater than 30 mm Hg pressure in the distal esophagus). The patient-reported symptoms and manometric data, along with the results of a 24-hour pH study (if done), were extracted for further analysis. Out of 4923 patients, 240 (4.9%) met the manometric criteria for DES. Of these, 217 patients had complete manometry data along with at least one reported symptom. Of the patients with DES, 159 (73.3%) had dysphagia or chest pain as a reported symptom. Patients reporting either dysphagia or chest pain had significantly higher lower esophageal sphincter (LES) pressure than patients without these symptoms (P= 0.007). Significant association was noted between reported dysphagia and percentage of simultaneous waves. Chest pain did not correlate with percent of simultaneous waves, mean amplitude of peristalsis, or 24-hour pH score. The origin of reported chest pain in patients with DES is not clear but may be related to higher LES pressure. Simultaneous waves were associated with reported dysphagia. Using current diagnostic criteria, the term DES has no clinical relevance.