EPT for Achalasia

EPT or esophageal pressure topography (using high-resolution manometry) can help predict outcomes for achalasia (Gastroenterol 2013; 144: 718-25, editorial 681-83).

Background:  Patients with achalasia often present with dysphagia, chest pain, and regurgitation.  These symptoms result from impaired lower esophageal sphincter relaxation and aperistalsis.  While the main treatment has focused on disruption of the sphincter, esophageal body pressures may be important in long-term outcomes.

Three patterns of esophageal body pressures with achalasia:

  • type 1 absence of peristalsis and minimal pressurization
  • type 2 absence of peristalsis with panesophageal pressurization (≥30 mm Hg)
  • type 3 evidence of spasm

According to the cited study which reviewed data from 176 patients in the European achalasia trial (time period: 2003-2008, 18-75 year old), success rates were better with type 2 achalasia (96%, n=114) compared with type 1 (81%, n=44) or type 3 (66%, n=18).

In addition, the EPT findings may influence treatment selection.  Pneumatic dilation (PD) was more successful than Heller myotomy (HM) for type 2 patients (100% vs. 93%, p < 0.05).  However, HM was considered successful more frequently for patients with type 3 achalasia (86% vs. 40% –though not statistically significant due to small numbers).  For type 1, no significant difference was noted between HM and PD at 2 year followup, 81% vs. 85% respectively.

The commentary discusses some of the pertinent issues.   For example, HM may be better than PD among type 1 patients; the exclusion of patients with severe dilatation of esophagus.

Take-home message (from editorial) “The task at hand is to determine whether these distinct categories truly matter in clinical practice…it seems that the subtypes of achalasia do have prognostic value…we …need to determine…whether subtypes can inform treatment options.”

Treatment for rumination and belching

Treatment options for rumination and for belching are limited.  Baclofen improves symptoms and decreases events in both of these disorders (Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2012; 10: 379-84).

Rumination is characterized by effortless regurgitation of recently ingested food into the mouth (or beyond). It is easily mistaken for vomiting disorders and motility disturbances.  With rumination, patients have retrograde flow of gastric contents into the esophagus through voluntary, though unintentional, abdominal muscle contractions with increased intragastric pressure increases.

Supragastric belching occurs when air is sucked into the esophagus by decreasing the intrathoracic pressure or by contracting pharyngeal muscles.

Baclofen is an agonist of the γ-aminobutyric acid B (GABA) receptor which results in increased lower esophageal sphincter (LES) pressures and reduced swallowing rates. Baclofen has been shown to improve reflux, mainly by reducing transient LES relaxations (TLESRs) but also by increasing basal LES pressures.

In the majority of patients, the mainstay of treatment has been behavioral which use diaphragmatic breathing to compete/extinguish these behaviors.  There are a shortage of therapists familiar with this approach.  As such, alternative treatments are needed.  In this study, high-resolution manometry-impendance recordings were taken from 16 patients (10 women; mean age 43 years; range 18-89 years); eight of the patients had rumination.  Only 12 patients were included in the final analysis; four patients refused repeat manometry.  Manometry was performed before and after treatment along with recording symptoms.  Both symptoms and manometry recordings improved with Baclofen therapy.  This was a one-week open-label study.  Baclofen was dosed at 10 mg TID.  At baseline the total number of “flow events” was 473; after treatment, this was reduced to 282 events.  In total, rumination events decreased by 68% during treatment.   This improvement correlated with increased LES pressures.

Four of the 12 patients reported mild side effects mainly sleepiness and difficulty concentrating.

Additional references:

  • -Clin Gastroenterol & Hep 2007; 5:772. Review. Supragastric belching usually due to aerophagia and is very frequen (up to 20/hr)t. GERD related belching is less infrequent, has sour taste, usually less loud & after meals. Gum chewing, excessive beverage drinks, rapid eating or drinking,  smoking or using straw for drinking may increase air in the stomach and lead to burping which can be behavioural problem as well.
  • -“Behavioral Treatment of Chronic Belching Due to Aerophagia in a  Normal Adult” Behav Modif 2006; 30; 341
  • -JPGN 2011; 52: 414. Mgt of severe rumination @ Columbus Ohio. n=5. Definitive dx established with AD manometry with typical r-wave pattern (when regurgitates after a meal)
  • -JPGN 2010; 50: 103. Rumination occurring in NL intelligent adolescents. May start with regurgitation and progress to inability to swallow saliva.
  • -Clin Gastro & Hep 2006; 4: 1314. Review of management of rumination/case presentation
  • -Chitkara et al: Teaching diaphragmatic breathing for rumination syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol. 2006 Nov;101(11):2449-52. Review. Can use behavioral interventions such as deep breathing exercises/ diaphragmatic breathing to break the spasms..
  • -Gastroenterology 2006; 130: 1527-28. Review and criteria of rumination.
  • -Pediatrics 2003; 111: 158-62. Review of rumination dx, Rx, & prognosis.
  • -Clin Persp in Gastro 2000; 3 (5): 277.

Additional Baclofen references:

  • -J Pediatr 2006; 149: 436, 468. Baclofen reduces GER. 0.5mg/kg/day
  • -JPGN 2004; 38: 317. Effectiveness of baclofen in neurologically-impaired children w GER. (0.7/kg/day), n=8.
  • -Gastroenterology 2000; 118: 7-13. Use of baclofen to reduce TLESR.
  • -Aliment Pharm Ther 2003; 17: 243-51. Baclofen reduced GER (acid & nonacid). side effects -N, V, dizzy. dose: in adults, start at 5mg tid, increase c 5mg increments every 4th day to 10-20mg tid.