Objective: To determine the patterns of esophageal motility found in patients with Chagas' disease.
Methods: Clinical, manometric, and scintigraphic data were obtained from 43 subjects with positive serological tests for Chagas' disease and nondilated esophagus and 10 patients with Chagasic megaesophagus.
Results: Twenty (46.5%) of the seropositive subjects with nondilated esophagus were asymptomatic, and 23 (53.5%) had dysphagia, but only 12 (27.9%) had persistent dysphagia, a feature typical of Chagasic megaesophagus; only two (4.6%) had chest pain. Manometric findings within the seropositive group were: normal motility in 16 subjects, peristaltic multipeaked contractions in three, aperistalsis of the esophagus with relaxing lower esophageal sphincter in nine, and aperistalsis with nonrelaxing lower esophageal sphincter in 15 subjects. All of 10 megaesophagus patients had aperistalsis of the esophagus plus nonrelaxing lower esophageal sphincter. Scintigraphy was as sensitive as manometry in detecting esophageal dysmotility, but the erect scintigraphy was abnormal in subjects with complete aperistalsis only.
Conclusion: In Chagas' disease, megaesophagus appears to be a disorder at the most severe end of a spectrum encompassing classical achalasia and its milder variants. Other esophageal motility disorders are rare, but normal esophageal function is common.