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Esophageal Motility Disorders

Esophageal motility disorders interfere with the regular muscle contractions that move food down the esophagus and into the stomach. These disorders cause difficulty in swallowing, regurgitation of food and occasionally painful spasms. 

Tests & Diagnosis

Barium swallow study allows X-rays to be taken while a patient drinks a white chalky liquid to visualize the passage of the fluid through the esophagus and into the stomach.

High-resolution manometry measures the strength, pressure, and coordination of the muscles of the esophagus. A specially trained nurse guides a small catheter through the nose and into the esophagus and instructs the patient to swallow small amounts of liquid at specific intervals.


Medical treatments aim to relax the smooth muscle of the LES and esophagus. Frequently used medications for patients with esophageal motility disorders include calcium channel blockers, smooth muscle relaxants, anticholinergics, and antianxiety medications.

POEM (peroral endoscopic myotomy): This procedure is similar to the Heller myotomy but less invasive and performed using an endoscope that is passed through the mouth with no external incisions. The Esophageal & Lung Institute is the first and most experienced site in western Pennsylvania to offer POEM as a new treatment option for esophageal motility disorders.