How I Approach Dysphagia

Jooho P. Kim, Peter J. Kahrilas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: This review presents an overview of the diagnostic approach to esophageal dysphagia and summarizes recent epidemiological trends and technical advancements. Recent Findings: The evaluation of dysphagia begins with a detailed history followed by endoscopy to evaluate for any structural abnormalities including malignancy. This is especially true given the emergence of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) as a dominant cause of esophageal dysphagia. In fact, it is now standard practice to obtain esophageal biopsies during endoscopy performed to evaluate dysphagia, since EoE can present without the characteristic mucosal features of rings, furrows, and exudate. Achalasia is also more frequently encountered since the introduction of high-resolution manometry (HRM) and the Chicago Classification into clinical practice. The Chicago Classification provides a stepwise diagnostic algorithm for evaluating HRM studies and systematically diagnosing esophageal motility disorders. Lastly, the functional lumen imaging probe (FLIP) is a novel technology that has added insight into both achalasia and EoE. Measuring esophageal distensibility with FLIP has useful prognostic implications for both diseases, and FLIP can identify motility abnormalities in achalasics not detected with HRM. Summary: A careful history is key to the efficient evaluation of dysphagia, and endoscopy is usually the first diagnostic study to obtain. For patients with prominent reflux symptoms, an empiric trial with proton pump inhibitors is reasonable then because reflux disease is such a common cause of dysphagia. Thereafter, patients should undergo HRM to evaluate for a motility disorder, and FLIP can provide complementary data to guide management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number49
JournalCurrent gastroenterology reports
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Dysphagia
  • Esophagus
  • Functional luminal imaging probe
  • High-resolution manometer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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