Background/aims: Normal inhibition of lower esophageal sphincter (LES) tone occurs during swallowing and belching. However, it is known that it may occur independently of these functions. The aim of this study was to characterize the effect of pharyngeal water stimulation on resting LES pressure.
Methods: The effect of rapid-pulse and slow continuous intrapharyngeal injection of minute increments of water on the resting tone of the upper and LES of 14 healthy young volunteers was evaluated by concurrent manometry, submental electromyography, and respirography.
Results: At a threshold volume, pharyngeal water injection induced an isolated LES relaxation in all volunteers. The threshold volume inducing LES relaxation by rapid-pulse injection, 0.16 +/- 0.01 mL, was significantly lower than that with slow continuous injection (0.5 +/- 0.05 mL) (P < 0.05). The duration and magnitude of LES relaxation were not volume dependent. The duration of LES relaxation induced by rapid-pulse injection was significantly longer than that of swallows.
Conclusions: Minute amounts of liquid injected into the pharynx induce LES relaxation different from that of the normal swallow. Neither the duration nor the magnitude of this relaxation is volume dependent. Whereas the contribution of this finding to the mechanism of transient LES relaxation remains to be ascertained, it may partially explain the variability of the basal LES pressure.