Before and after Esophageal Surgery: Which Information Is Needed from the Functional Laboratory?

Visc Med. 2018 Apr;34(2):116-121. doi: 10.1159/000486556. Epub 2018 Apr 20.


Background: Indications for benign esophageal surgery and postoperative follow-up need to be highly elaborated with differentiated and structured algorithms, based on objective functional workup in the esophageal laboratory. Functional outcome is of utmost interest and has to be driven by the need for comprehensive but purposeful diagnostic methods.

Methods: Preoperative diagnostic workup procedures by the functional laboratory include 24-h pH-monitoring, impedance testing, and high-resolution manometry (HRM) - in addition to upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and barium swallow/timed barium esophagogram.

Results: The most frequent indications for benign esophageal surgery are gastroesophageal reflux disease and achalasia; quite rare indications are esophageal diverticula and benign tumors. Esophageal motility testing in addition to 24-h pH-monitoring is crucial before antireflux surgery (ARS) in order to rule out ineffective esophageal motility and to tailor the wrap. With respect to achalasia surgery, the exact type of achalasia (I-III) has to be labeled according to the Chicago classification, and other motility disorders have to be excluded. The postoperative functional evaluation in the early phase (6 months) after either ARS or Heller's myotomy serves as the new baseline motility testing in case of later occurring disturbances in the follow-up.

Conclusion: A complete and proper preoperative esophageal function assessment is crucial in order to rule out a primary motility disorder and to avoid postoperative functional complications.

Keywords: 24-h pH-monitoring; Functional esophageal assessment; Functional outcome; High-resolution impedance manometry; Quality of life; Surgery for benign esophageal disease; Timed barium esophagogram.

Publication types

  • Review