We tested a manometric assembly employing a sleeve sensor that is able to monitor anterior or posterior pressure in the human upper esophageal sphincter (UES) for prolonged intervals. When compared to rapid pull-through measurement of UES pressure obtained with conventional manometric assemblies, the sleeve sensor measured significantly lower UES pressures with less variability between subjects, thereby suggesting that the rapid pull-through maneuver stimulates the UES to contract. Concurrent recordings of UES pressure with a sleeve sensor and a side-hole sensor during a slow station pull-through yielded almost equal pressure values at the peak of the high-pressure zone (station zero), but the side-hole site recorded significantly lower pressures than the sleeve at stations 0.5 cm or more from the peak of the high-pressure zone. During 10 min of recording at station zero, the sleeve sensor recorded greater pressures than the side-hole sensor. This finding demonstrated the suceptibility of the side-hole sensor to axial movement relative to peak UES pressure. When stationary, both the sleeve sensor and the side-hole sensor recorded significantly lower UES pressure after 1-2 min of recording, again suggesting that movement of the recording assembly stimulates the UES to contract. Sleeve recordings of swallow-induced UES relaxations showed that UES relaxations induced by water swallows were slightly longer than those induced by dry swallows. Augmentations of UES pressure induced by balloon distension of the esophageal body were also recorded. We conclude that the sleeve sensor is a suitable method for investigating the normal physiology and pathophysiology of the UES in human subjects.
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