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Esophageal spasm - Definition


An esophageal spasm is an involuntary contraction of the esophagus muscles, notably the lower esophageal sphincter. There are two esophageal sphincters that are shaped like a ring and primarily serve to prevent the backflow of food up the esophagus. This is also prevented by the other muscles that ensure the peristalsis of the esophagus, forcing food down the tract. Achalasia, sometimes called esophageal aperistalsis, is a peristalsis disorder or even failure. The lower sphincter remains contracted in stead of relaxing to let a ball of food pass through. This leads to eating difficulties and pain, which can be more severe for passing fluids than solids. It can also result in vomiting shortly after a meal, or chest pains. Diagnosis is established by means of endoscopy, using esophageal manometry, a technique of studying the pressures in play in this organ.