Pharyngeal and upper esophageal sphincter manometry in the evaluation of dysphagia

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2001 Nov-Dec;33(5):355-61. doi: 10.1097/00004836-200111000-00003.


The use of esophageal manometry seems to be increasing, but the utility of pharyngeal and upper esophageal sphincter (UES) manometry is not widely recognized. This article is intended to clarify this subject. Initially, we review the anatomy and physiology of this area. Most studies indicate that the manometry of the UES and pharynx provides useful information primarily in patients that have symptoms of oropharyngeal dysfunction. Oropharyngeal dysphagia has high morbidity, mortality, and cost. It occurs in one third of all stroke patients and is common in the chronic care setting; up to 60% of nursing home occupants have feeding difficulties, of whom a substantial portion have dysphagia. For patients with oropharyngeal dysphagia, as for those with esophageal dysphagia, barium swallow study and manometry are complimentary. Their combined use permits us to enhance the understanding of the pathophysiologic process that causes the patient's symptoms. Abnormalities have been noted in a variety of diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy, achalasia, and scleroderma. Thus, it is possible to determine the primary pathology that is causing the patient's dysphagia by analyzing the manometry results. Pharyngeal and UES manometry also has a value in evaluating patients who are candidates for myotomy or dilatation, as it can help identify patients with a prospective good outcome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Esophagogastric Junction / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Manometry
  • Pharynx / physiology*