Presence of esophageal contractility after achalasia treatment is associated with improved esophageal emptying

Edoardo Vespa*, Domenico A. Farina, John E. Pandolfino, Peter J. Kahrilas, Andree H. Koop, Dustin A. Carlson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Aims: Some achalasia patients exhibit esophageal contractile activity on follow-up after treatment, yet its importance remains unclear. We aimed to identify factors associated with presence of contractility after treatment and to assess its impact on timed barium esophagram (TBE) and clinical outcomes. Methods: Patients with type I or II achalasia on baseline high-resolution manometry (HRM) who completed HRM, TBE, and functional lumen imaging probe (FLIP) after treatment were retrospectively identified. Contractility was defined on post-treatment HRM as presence of at least 1 supine swallow with DCI ≥100 mmHg s cm. Key Results: One hundred twenty-two patients were included (mean age 48 ± 17 years, 50% female). At follow-up evaluation after treatment (54% peroral endoscopic myotomy, 24% pneumatic dilation, 22% laparoscopic Heller myotomy), 61 (50%) patients had contractility on HRM. Patients with contractility (compared to those without) more frequently had type II achalasia (84% vs 57%, p = 0.001) and a post-treatment normal EGJ opening classification on FLIP (69% vs 49%; p < 0.001). In the subgroup of patients with post-treatment integrated relaxation pressure <15 mmHg and normal EGJ opening on FLIP (n = 53), those with contractility had a lower median column height on TBE at 1 min (4 vs 7 cm, p = 0.002) and 5 min (0 vs 5 cm, p = 0.001). In patients with “abnormal” EGJ metrics, patients with contractility showed lower symptom scores (median Eckardt score 2 vs 3, p = 0.03). Conclusions & Inferences: Occurring more frequently in type II achalasia, and if adequate EGJ opening is achieved after treatment, esophageal contractility may contribute to improved esophageal emptying and improved symptoms in non-spastic achalasia. Preservation of esophageal body muscle could improve outcomes in these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14732
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • achalasia
  • contractility
  • esophagram
  • manometry
  • outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology


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