OBJECTIVE: Previous studies have suggested that ineffective esophageal motility (IEM) may be a marker for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), particularly supraesophageal reflux disease. We evaluated the relationship between esophageal acid exposure and esophageal body motility in patients undergoing both esophageal manometry and 24-h pH metry in the absence of antisecretory therapy. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective database review of 84 patients (mean age 47 yr, 46% male) evaluated in our GI physiology laboratory. The indication for testing was recorded and characterized as esophageal or supraesophageal. Abnormal esophageal acid exposure was defined as a distal esophageal pH <4 for more than 4.2% of the total monitoring time (>6.3% upright, >1.2% supine) or a proximal esophageal acid exposure time of greater than 1.1% total (>1.3% upright, 0% supine). IEM was defined as more than two of 10 ineffective peristaltic waves. RESULTS: Seventy-two patients had esophageal-presenting symptoms, and 12 had supraesophageal symptoms. The prevalence of abnormal esophageal acid exposure was similar in patients with esophageal and supraesophageal symptoms (69% vs 92%, p = 0.17). Abnormal motility was identified in 26 patients (31%). IEM was the most common motility disturbance (77%, 20 patients). The frequency of motility disorders was similar in patients with and without abnormal esophageal acid exposure (30% vs 35%, p = 0.79), in patients with esophageal or supraesophageal symptoms (32% vs 25%, p = 0.75, for all patients; 30% vs 27%, p = 1.00, for patients with abnormal esophageal acid exposure), and among upright, supine, and combined refluxers (33%, 9%, and 35%, p = 0.26). CONCLUSIONS: IEM does not stand alone as a significant marker for the presence of GERD in general or supraesophageal reflux disease in particular.
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