The Role of Esophageal Hypersensitivity in Functional Esophageal Disorders

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The Rome IV diagnostic criteria delineates 5 functional esophageal disorders which include functional chest pain, functional heartburn, reflux hypersensitivity, globus, and functional dysphagia. These are a heterogenous group of disorders which, despite having characteristic symptom profiles attributable to esophageal pathology, fail to demonstrate any structural, motility or inflammatory abnormalities on standard clinical testing. These disorders are associated with a marked reduction in patient quality of life, not least considerable healthcare resources. Furthermore, the pathophysiology of these disorders is incompletely understood. In this narrative review we provide the reader with an introductory primer to the structure and function of esophageal perception, including nociception that forms the basis of the putative mechanisms that may give rise to symptoms in functional esophageal disorders. We also discuss the provocative techniques and outcome measures by which esophageal hypersensitivity can be established.

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