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Esophageal motility disorders in the morbidly obese population

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Most studies investigating esophageal motility among the morbidly obese have focused on the relationship between lower esophageal sphincter (LES) pressure and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Very few studies in the literature have examined motility disorders among the morbidly obese population in general outside the context of GERD. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of esophageal motility disorders in obese patients selected for bariatric surgery.


A total of 116 obese patients (81 women and 35 men) selected for laparoscopic gastric banding underwent manometric evaluation of their esophagus from January to March 2003. Tracings were retrospectively reviewed for the end points of LES resting pressure, LES relaxation, and esophageal peristalsis.


The study patients had a body mass index (BMI) of 42.9 kg/m2, and a mean age of 48.6 years. The following abnormal manometric findings were demonstrated in 41% of the patients: nonspecific esophageal motility disorders (23%), nutcracker esophagus (peristaltic amplitude >180 mmHg) (11%), isolated hypertensive LES pressure (>35 mmHg) (3%), isolated hypotensive LES pressure (<12 mmHg) (3%), diffuse esophageal spasm (1%), and achalasia (1%). Only one patient with abnormal esophageal motility reported noncardiac chest pain.


Despite a high prevalence of esophageal dysmotility in our morbidly obese study population, there was a conspicuous absence of symptoms. Although the patients in this study were not directly questioned with regard to esophageal symptoms, several studies in the literature support our conclusion.

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Correspondence to R. Rosenthal.

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Podium presentation at the annual meeting of the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), 26–29 April 2006, Dallas, TX, USA

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Koppman, J.S., Poggi, L., Szomstein, S. et al. Esophageal motility disorders in the morbidly obese population. Surg Endosc 21, 761–764 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00464-006-9102-y

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  • Bariatric surgery
  • Esophageal dysmotility
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Morbid obesity