Comparison of esophageal manometry, provocative testing, and ambulatory monitoring in patients with unexplained chest pain

Dig Dis Sci. 1990 Mar;35(3):302-9. doi: 10.1007/BF01537406.


Prolonged ambulatory esophageal pH and pressure monitors are being developed to evaluate noncardiac chest pain. This new technology needs comparison with conventional esophageal tests before determining which studies are most useful in diagnosing and treating esophageal chest pain. Therefore, we studied 45 patients with esophageal manometry, acid perfusion and edrophonium tests, and 24 hr pH and pressure monitoring. Manometry was abnormal in 20 patients (44%) with nutcracker esophagus, the most common motility disorder. Fifteen (33%) had positive acid perfusion test and 24 (55%) positive edrophonium test. During ambulatory monitoring, all patients experienced chest pain with a total of 202 individual events: 32 events (15%) secondary to acid reflux, 15 (7%) secondary to motility abnormalities, 7 (3%) to both pH and pressure changes, and 149 events (74%) occurred in the absence of any abnormal pH or motility changes. Patients with normal manometry were significantly (P less than 0.01) more likely to have acid reflux chest pain events than did nutcracker patients, who had an equal frequency of pH and motility events. A positive acid perfusion test was significantly associated with abnormal pressure events (P = 0.02; odds ratio 5.95), while a positive edrophonium test more likely predicted acid reflux chest pain during 24-hr monitoring (P = 0.007; odds ratio 7.25). Therefore, abnormal manometry and positive provocative tests point to the esophagus as the likely source of chest pain. However, ambulatory pH and pressure monitoring are required to accurately define the relationship between chest pain and acid reflux or motility disorders.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Chest Pain / etiology*
  • Edrophonium
  • Esophageal Motility Disorders / complications
  • Esophageal Motility Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Esophagus / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • Manometry
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Pressure


  • Edrophonium