J Neurogastroenterol Motil.  2017 Jul;23(3):378-384. 10.5056/jnm16177.

Clinical Characteristics of Patients with Untreated Achalasia

Affiliations
  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, National Health Insurance Service Ilsan Hospital, Ilsan, Gyeonggi-do, Korea.
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine, Gangnam Severance Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. HJPARK21@yuhs.ac
  • 3Division of Digestive Diseases, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND/AIMS
Patients with untreated achalasia frequently complain of heartburn and regurgitation. The diagnosis of achalasia might be delayed because these symptoms are misinterpreted as gastroesophageal reflux. We aim to evaluate the clinical, radiologic, and manometric findings in patient with untreated achalasia.
METHODS
The records of patients diagnosed with primary achalasia between July 2004 and January 2012 at Gangnam Severance Hospital, Seoul, Korea were evaluated. We reviewed their clinical history and the findings of barium esophagogram, upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, and esophageal transit scintigraphy. We also compared the clinical, radiologic, and manometric findings of patients according to heartburn symptoms and proton pump inhibitor use.
RESULTS
Our study included a total of 64 patients with a median age of 44.5 (interquartile range, 31.5-54.0). The median duration of symptoms was 23.5 (interquartile range, 5.3-57.0) months. Sixty-four patients (100%) had dysphagia, 49 (76.6%) had regurgitation, 35 (54.7%) had chest pain, and 38 (59.4%) had heartburn. Typical clinical features of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) such as regurgitation, heartburn, and chest pain were observed in more than 50% of achalasia patients. Proton pump inhibitors were prescribed for 16 patients (25%) on the assumption that they had GERD. Patients with heartburn were more likely to experience weight loss (P = 0.009), regurgitation (P = 0.001), or chest pain (P = 0.019).
CONCLUSIONS
Heartburn, regurgitation, and chest pain were commonly observed in patients with untreated achalasia. Therefore, these findings suggest that achalasia should be suspected in patients with refractory GERD.

Keyword

Diagnosis; Esophageal achalasia; Gastroesophageal reflux

MeSH Terms

Barium
Chest Pain
Deglutition Disorders
Diagnosis
Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal
Esophageal Achalasia*
Gastroesophageal Reflux
Heartburn
Humans
Korea
Proton Pump Inhibitors
Proton Pumps
Radionuclide Imaging
Seoul
Weight Loss
Barium
Proton Pump Inhibitors
Proton Pumps
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