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Symptomatic diffuse esophageal spasm as a major ictal manifestation of post-traumatic epilepsy: a case report


Address correspondence to: Dr Jian-Qiu Sheng, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Beijing Military General Hospital, Nanmenchang 5#, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China, 100700. Email:; Dr C. Prakash Gyawali, MD, Division of Gastroenterology, 660 S. Euclid Avenue, Campus Box 8124, Saint Louis, MO 63110, USA. Email:


Post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) can create diagnostic confusion when typical epileptic seizures are not manifest. Abdominal symptoms as a manifestation of PTE are rare in this setting. We present a 43-year-old female with paroxysmal chest and abdominal pain, nausea, salivation, and intermittent dysphagia. Esophageal testing demonstrated diffuse esophageal spasm, but smooth muscle relaxants provided no relief. Finally, after history revealed that a motor vehicle accident temporally preceded symptom onset, video electroencephalography confirmed PTE. Therapy with anti-epileptic drug completely resolved symptoms, and the esophageal motor pattern normalized. We speculate that abnormal epileptiform discharges from the seizure focus altered cerebral input to intrinsic esophageal innervation, resulting in inhibitory dysfunction and a picture resembling diffuse esophageal spasm. This is the first report of symptomatic esophageal spasm as a major ictal manifestation of PTE.