Although esophageal manometry is widely used in clinical practice, the normal range of esophageal contraction parameters is poorly defined. Therefore, 95 healthy volunteers (mean age: 43 years; range 22-79 years) were studied with a low-compliance infusion system and 4.5-mm-diameter catheter. All subjects were given 10 wet swallows (5 cc H2O) and 38 subjects also were given 10 dry swallows.
Results: Amplitude, but not duration, was greater (P less than 0.05) after wet compared to dry swallows. Both distal mean contractile amplitude and duration of wet swallows significantly increased with age and peaked in the fifties. Double-peaked waves frequently occurred after both wet (11.3%) and dry (18.1%) swallows, but triple-peaked waves were rare (less than 1%). Nonperistaltic contractions were more common (P less than 0.001) after dry compared to wet swallows (18.1% vs 4.1%). This difference resulted from frequent simultaneous contractions after dry swallows (12.6% vs 0.4%).
Conclusions: Distal esophageal contractile amplitude and duration after wet swallows increases with age. Triple-peaked waves and wet-swallow-induced simultaneous contractions should suggest an esophageal motility disorder. Double-peaked waves are a common variant of normal. Dry swallows have little use in the current evaluation of esophageal peristalsis.