Background: Esophageal symptoms are common in anorexia nervosa, but it is not known whether they are associated with motility disorders, with different forms of the disease, and whether they respond to nutritional rehabilitation.
Methods: To clarify these points, 23 patients with anorexia nervosa (12 binge-eating/purging, "purgers"; 11 restricting type, "restricters") were studied by esophageal manometry before and after 22 weeks rehabilitation. Manometric parameters of 35 age and sex-matched patients were used as controls. Patients with anorexia also filled questionnaires on eating disorder psychopathology, psychopathological distress and esophageal, gastric and colonic symptoms before and after 4 and 22 weeks of a rehabilitation program.
Results: Symptoms were more severe in patients than in controls. Gastric and colonic, but not esophageal symptoms improved with treatment. LES basal pressure was higher in restricters (restricters 32.1±4.6; purgers 14.9±2.2; controls 17.1±1.1 mmHg, p<0.005), but still within normal range; this difference disappeared after treatment. Postdeglutitive body waves were normally propagated. Their amplitude was significantly higher in anorexia than in controls. No correlation was found between results of psychopathological tests (improved after treatment), esophageal symptoms and manometry.
Conclusions: In anorexia, esophageal symptoms are frequent and severe. They are not adequately explained by psychological or manometric derangements.
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