Noncardiac chest pain: diagnosis and management

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Noncardiac chest pain (NCCP) has been defined as recurrent chest pain that is indistinguishable from ischemic heart pain after excluding a cardiac cause. NCCP is a common and highly challenging clinical problem in Gastrointestinal practice that requires targeted diagnostic assessment to identify the underlying cause of the symptoms. Treatment is tailored according to the cause of NCCP: gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), esophageal dysmotility or functional chest pain. The purpose of this review is to discuss the current diagnosis and treatment of NCCP.

Recent findings

Utilization of new diagnostic techniques such as pH-impedance and high-resolution esophageal manometry, and the introduction of a new definition for functional chest pain have helped to better diagnose the underlying mechanisms of NCCP. A better therapeutic approach toward GERD-related NCCP, the introduction of new interventions for symptoms due to esophageal spastic motor disorders and the expansion of the neuromodulator armamentarium for functional chest pain have changed the treatment landscape of NCCP.

Summary

GERD is the most common esophageal cause of NCCP, followed by functional chest pain and esophageal dysmotility. The proton pump inhibitor test, upper endoscopy, wireless pH capsule and pH-impedance are used to identify GERD-induced NCCP. High-resolution esophageal manometry is the main tool to identify esophageal motor disorder in non-GERD-related NCCP. Negative diagnostic assessment suggests functional chest pain. Potent antireflux treatment is offered to patients with GERD-related NCCP; medical, endoscopic or surgical interventions are considered in esophageal dysmotility; and neuromodulators are prescribed for functional chest pain. Assessment and treatment of psychological comorbidity should be considered in all NCCP patients.

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