Treatment of dysphagia resulting from bulbar amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has included cricopharyngeal myotomy for many years but is successful in only a minority of cases. The purpose of this study was to explore the rationale for this procedure with modern manometric techniques. The results of pharyngoesophageal manometry in 13 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis were compared with 13 age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers by Mann-Whitney analysis. There was no significant difference between patients and control subjects in distal esophageal or lower esophageal sphincter motility nor any pressure parameter of pharyngoesophageal motility. Separate analysis of the seven significantly dysphagic subjects showed a significantly reduced upper esophageal sphincter after-contraction amplitude during water and bread swallows in patients than in control subjects. These data suggest that the dysphagia of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is not due to upper esophageal sphincter spasm and that treatment by cricopharyngeal myotomy may be inappropriate. © 1995, SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.
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