The purpose of our study was to determine the frequency, radiographic features, and clinical importance of transient failure of opening of the lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS) on upright double-contrast views of the oesophagus. A computerized search of radiology records identified 16 patients who had transient failure of opening of the LOS on upright views from biphasic oesophagrams or upper gastrointestinal tract examinations using high-density barium but normal opening of the LOS on prone views using low-density barium. The radiographic findings were reviewed and correlated with the clinical and manometric findings. In all cases, barium studies revealed tapered, beaklike narrowing of the distal oesophagus on upright double-contrast views, with a normal-appearing distal oesophagus, normal opening of the LOS, and intact peristalsis on prone single-contrast views. Only seven patients (44%) had dysphagia. Five of these patients had clinical follow-up, and the dysphagia improved or resolved without specific treatment for LOS dysfunction in four. The remaining patient had persistent dysphagia, but this individual had polymyositis as the likely cause for his dysphagia. Manometry revealed incomplete relaxation of the LOS in two patients and normal relaxation in one. Our experience suggests that failure of opening of the LOS may be observed as a transient finding of little clinical importance on upright double-contrast views of the oesophagus using high-density barium, with normal opening of the LOS on prone single-contrast views using low-density barium. It is important to be aware of this finding, so that it is not mistaken for achalasia or other abnormalities of the distal oesophagus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging