Frequency of Jackhammer Esophagus as the Extreme Phenotypes of Esophageal Hypercontractility Based on the New Chicago Classification

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Jackhammer Esophagus is defined as intact esophageal peristaltic contractions with extremely elevated amplitudes. We conducted a retrospective study to identify the frequency of esophageal hypercontractility and the clinical characteristics of Jackhammer Esophagus.


Charts for the patients referred for manometric study at a tertiary-care motility center were reviewed. Data were collected utilizing the new Chicago classification criteria for Jackhammer Esophagus. Concomitant clinical variables were also explored.


Eight patients were identified with Jackhammer Esophagus from a total of 205 (127 female/77 male) patients referred for high-resolution esophageal manometry. Jackhammer patients had an average distal contractile integral (DCI) of 9061 mmHg/ sec/ cm and median maximal DCI of 16,433 mmHg/ sec/ cm. The greatest DCI from 15 swallows was 28,875 mmHg/ sec/ cm. Hypercontractility was associated with multipeaked contractions in every Jackhammer patient. The mean lower esophageal sphincter (LES) pressure was 41 mm Hg with 4 patients having a hypertensive pressure of >40 mm Hg. Three of the 8 (37.5%) Jackhammer group had incomplete LES relaxation by integrated relaxation pressure criteria (>15 mm Hg residual pressure). Dysphagia (8/8) was the dominant indication for the manometric study, whereas the clinical background setting was gastroesophageal reflux disease (4/8) and hiatal hernia (1/8). Treatments included smooth muscle relaxation, antireflux regimens, and pneumatic dilation of the LES.


Jackhammer Esophagus, an extreme manometric phenotype, was identified in 4.0% of patients referred to a University Motility Center. The patients with these esophageal hypercontractility states present mainly with dysphagia. A subgroup of Jackhammer did have accompanying incomplete LES relaxation and responded to targeted therapy with pneumatic dilatation.

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