Esophageal motility disorders: medical therapy

J Clin Gastroenterol. May-Jun 2008;42(5):652-8. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e31815bd223.


Symptoms of chest pain and dysphagia are common in the adult population. Most patients initially undergo an evaluation to exclude anatomic causes (ie, esophagitis, stricture) and cardiovascular disease as the etiology of these symptoms. Patients with persistent symptoms may then be referred for specialized testing of the esophagus, including esophageal manometry. Disorders of esophageal motility, which include achalasia, diffuse esophageal spasm, nutcracker esophagus, hypertensive lower esophageal sphincter, and ineffective motility are often identified in these patients. Unfortunately, the etiology of these disorders has not been well characterized and the treatment has not been standardized. This review will briefly discuss the impact, etiology, and diagnosis of esophageal motility disorders, and then focus on the medical management of these disorders using evidence from well-designed, prospective studies, where available.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use*
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Esophageal Motility Disorders / physiopathology
  • Esophageal Motility Disorders / therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / physiology
  • Humans
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects
  • Neuromuscular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Neuromuscular Agents
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors