Upper esophageal sphincter impedance as a marker of sphincter opening diameter

Taher Omari, Lara Ferris, Eddy Dejaeger, Jan Tack, Dirk Vanbeckevoort, Nathalie Rommel

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    35 Citations (Scopus)


    The measurement of the physical extent of opening of the upper esophageal sphincter (UES) during bolus swallowing has to date relied on videofluoroscopy. Theoretically luminal impedance measured during bolus flow should be influenced by luminal diameter. In this study, we measured the UES nadir impedance (lowest value of impedance) during bolus swallowing and assessed it as a potential correlate of UES diameter that can be determined nonradiologically. In 40 patients with dysphagia, bolus swallowing of liquids, semisolids, and solids was recorded with manometry, impedance, and videofluoroscopy. During swallows, the UES opening diameter (in the lateral fluoroscopic view) was measured and compared with automated impedance manometry (AIM)-derived swallow function variables and UES nadir impedance as well as high-resolution manometry-derived UES relaxation pressure variables. Of all measured variables, UES nadir impedance was the most strongly correlated with UES opening diameter. Narrower diameter correlated with higher impedance (r = -0.478, P < 0.001). Patients with <10 mm, 10-14 mm (normal), and ≥15 mm UES diameter had average UES nadir impedances of 498 ± 39 Ohms, 369 ± 31 Ohms, and 293 ± 17 Ohms, respectively (ANOVA P = 0.005). A higher swallow risk index, indicative of poor pharyngeal swallow function, was associated with narrower UES diameter and higher UES nadir impedance during swallowing. In contrast, UES relaxation pressure variables were not significantly altered in relation to UES diameter. We concluded that the UES nadir impedance correlates with opening diameter of the UES during bolus flow. This variable, when combined with other pharyngeal AIM analysis variables, may allow characterization of the pathophysiology of swallowing dysfunction.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)G909-G913
    Number of pages5
    JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012


    • Deglutition disorders
    • Diagnosis
    • Electric impedance
    • Manometry
    • Radiology


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