Routine screening for eosinophilic esophagitis in patients presenting with dysphagia

Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2011 Jan;4(1):27-35. doi: 10.1177/1756283X10384172.


Background: Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a clinicopathologic disorder first described in 1978 which has gained significant recognition over the past 10 years. Numerous prevalence studies have been performed around the globe, both in pediatric and adult populations documenting a prevalence between 0.002% and 6.5%. The aim of this study is to assess the utility of routinely screening for EoE in patients with dysphagia.

Methods: A prospective, observational study in which adult patients with a complaint of esophageal dysphagia were enrolled.

Results: Of the 135 patients enrolled, 122 completed the study; 100 patients had nonobstructive dysphagia, while 22 patients had a luminal finding which could explain their dysphagia. The prevalence of EoE in the nonobstructive dysphagia group was 22% (95% CI: 13.9-30.1%); 32.7% of male patients with nonobstructive dysphagia were found to have EoE compared with 8.9% of females (p = 0.004). The mean age of nonobstructive patients found to have EoE was 37.8 years. White patients with nonobstructive dysphagia were found to have a 25.9% prevalence of EoE, compared with 0% of African Americans, 0% of Asians, and 14.3% of Hispanics. When comparing Whites with non-Whites, the prevalence of EoE was noted to be 25.9% versus 5.3%, respectively (p = 0.050).

Conclusions: EoE is a common cause of nonobstructive dysphagia. We believe that the high prevalence of EoE in patients with nonobstructive dysphagia supports the practice of routine biopsies to screen for the presence of abnormally high numbers of eosinophils in this subgroup.

Keywords: dysphagia; eosinophilic esophagitis; esophageal biopsy; screening.