Eating disorder or oesophageal achalasia during adolescence: diagnostic difficulties

  • Aurélie Letranchant
  • Bénédicte Pigneur
  • Martine Flament
  • Nathalie Godart
Case Report


Marine was a fourteen and a half-year-old adolescent female hospitalized for an eating disorder (ED) of the anorexic type with purging behaviors. She has had a complicated life course, made up of disruptions and discontinuities, both family and school. Since the age of five, Marine had been intermittently treated in psychiatry for a diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder. The current illness started with spontaneous and induced vomiting associated with major weight loss (body mass index, 15.27 kg m−2). The diagnosis of anorexia nervosa was established after several opinions from professionals in five Parisian university pediatric departments, where additional investigations were carried out without any somatic cause being identified. In this context, Marine was transferred to a child psychiatry unit. There, she had acute dyspnea during the insertion of a nasogastric tube. As a result, a new specialized opinion was sought from a pediatric gastroenterologist and further explorations were performed (oeso-gastroduodenal transit and manometry), leading to the conclusion to an oesophageal achalasia requiring surgical treatment. This case report highlights that the exclusion of any organic disorder should be a priority in the diagnostic assessment of an ED. Oesophageal achalasia is a rare differential diagnosis and should be considered in case of swallowing difficulties or dysphagia. Health care professionals should take care to provide appropriate somatic follow-up for patients with psychiatric disorders.


Achalasia Adolescence Anorexia nervosa Eating disorder 



A. Letranchant and N. Godart collected clinical data. A. Letranchant, M. Flament and N. Godart wrote the first draft of the manuscript. B. Pigneur improved the final version of the manuscript. All authors have approved the final article as submitted. Everyone who contributed significantly to this work is listed in this section. A recent oral presentation of this case report was made at a European conference (European council on eating disorders, September, 2017).


This work did not receive any specific Grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures were performed in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Consent from the mother of the patient (minor) described in the clinical case was obtained for the sharing of the patient’s data in accordance with anonymity requirements.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Adolescent and Young Adult Psychiatry UnitInstitut Mutualiste MontsourisParisFrance
  2. 2.Medical SchoolParis Descartes UniversityParisFrance
  3. 3.Laboratory of Intestinal ImmunityInstitut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale INSERM UMR1163, Institut ImagineParisFrance
  4. 4.Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and NutritionNecker Enfants Malades Hospital, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris Descartes-Sorbonne Paris CiteParisFrance
  5. 5.Institute of Mental Health Research Royal Ottawa Hospital, University of OttawaOttawaCanada
  6. 6.CESP, INSERM, Paris-Sud University, UVSQ, Paris-Saclay UniversityParisFrance

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