Advances in Management of Esophageal Motility Disorders

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The widespread adoption of high-resolution manometry (HRM) has led to a restructuring in the classification of esophageal motility disorder classification summarized in the Chicago Classification, currently in version 3.0. It has become apparent that the cardinal feature of achalasia, impaired lower esophageal sphincter relaxation, can occur in several disease phenotypes: without peristalsis, with premature (spastic) distal esophageal contractions, with panesophageal pressurization, or even with preserved peristalsis. Furthermore, despite these advances in diagnostics, no single manometric pattern is perfectly sensitive or specific for idiopathic achalasia and complimentary assessments with provocative maneuvers during HRM or interrogating the esophagogastric junction with the functional luminal imaging probe during endoscopy can be useful in clarifying equivocal or inexplicable HRM findings. Using these tools, we have come to conceptualize esophageal motility disorders as characterized by obstructive physiology at the esophagogastric junction, smooth muscle esophagus, or both. Recognizing obstructive physiology as a primary target of therapy has become particularly relevant with the development of a minimally invasive technique for performing a calibrated myotomy of the esophageal circular muscle, the POEM procedure. Now and going forward, optimal management is to render treatment in a phenotype-specific manner: e.g. POEM calibrated to patient-specific physiology for spastic achalasia and spastic disorders of the smooth muscle esophagus, more conservative strategies (pneumatic dilation) for the disorders limited to the sphincter.

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