Globus pharyngis, commonly associated with esophageal motility disorders

Am J Gastroenterol. 1994 Apr;89(4):503-8.


Objectives: To evaluate the role of gastrointestinal and psychiatric etiology in globus sensation.

Methods: The study population consisted of 32 consecutive patients with globus sensation without dysphagia referred to the Department of Otorhinolaryngology in Helsinki University Hospital. Eleven patients were excluded from the study: two because of advanced age, one prisoner, and six patients refused further studies. Only two patients (6%) were found to have abnormal otorhinolaryngological status. These patients were also excluded from the study. Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, 24-h pH recording, esophageal manometry, and Bernstein acid perfusion test were carried out in 21 patients (13 females, eight males, mean age 49 yr). Psychiatric evaluation was done in 20 patients; one patient refused the psychiatric consultation.

Results: Abnormal endoscopy was found in 12/21 (57%) of the patients, with antral gastritis and hiatal hernia being the most common findings. Two patients had esophagitis. Sixty-seven percent demonstrated abnormalities in esophageal manometry, the most frequent finding being a nonspecific esophageal motility disorder (29%). pH monitoring was normal in 16/21 of patients (76%), whereas the Bernstein test showed positive results in 13/21 (62%). With DSM IIIR as the diagnostic tool, five of 20 patients (25%) received a psychiatric diagnosis.

Conclusions: Globus sensation has a multiple etiology, and local reasons are rare but should first be ruled out. Abnormalities in esophageal motility are commonly found, and these patients seem to be sensitive to esophageal acidity. Esophageal manometry and ambulatory 24-h pH recording should be included in the evaluation of a globus patient. The number of psychiatric disorders does not differ from that in the general population. Treatment of globus sensation should be directed toward the abnormality found behind the symptom.

MeSH terms

  • Conversion Disorder / etiology*
  • Endoscopy, Digestive System
  • Esophageal Motility Disorders / diagnosis
  • Esophageal Motility Disorders / psychology*
  • Esophagitis / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrochloric Acid
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Manometry
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Pharynx*


  • Hydrochloric Acid