Segmental high amplitude peristaltic contractions in the distal esophagus

Am J Gastroenterol. 1989 Jun;84(6):619-23.


High amplitude peristaltic contractions in the distal esophagus ("nutcracker esophagus") is the most common manometric disorder seen in patients with noncardiac chest pain. Although this abnormality is found in the distal esophagus, the definition regarding its precise level in the esophagus is unclear. A careful analysis of 99 consecutive manometric tracings performed during a 1-yr period revealed that in patients with noncardiac chest pain and/or dysphagia, the location of the abnormal esophageal contractions varied: 1) in 11 patients the esophageal contractions were abnormal at 2 cm, as well as 7 cm, above the lower esophageal sphincter (LES); 2) the abnormality was limited to the 2-cm location above the LES in six patients; and 3) was confined to the 7-cm location above the LES in five patients. If the conventional criteria of averaging the distal esophageal contraction amplitudes at 2 and 7 cm above the LES were adopted, six of the 11 patients with segmental esophageal contraction abnormality would not have been identified. We suggest that, by inspection of each location of the distal esophagus separately, localized high amplitude contractions can be identified, and the distal 2 cm segment of the esophagus should be routinely included in the manometric evaluation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chest Pain / physiopathology*
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Esophagogastric Junction / physiopathology
  • Esophagus / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Motility*
  • Heartburn / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manometry
  • Middle Aged
  • Peristalsis*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values