Diffuse Esophageal Spasm

What is Diffuse Esophageal Spasm?

Diffuse Esophageal Spasm (DES) causes your esophagus to spasm in an uncoordinated fashion that prevents food that is swallowed from reaching the stomach.

What symptoms will I experience if I have Diffuse Esophageal Spasm?

  • Chest pain 
    • This pain is often confused with angina, and can worsen when eating or drinking very hot foods or liquids. 
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Heartburn 
  • Regurgitation

What are the causes of DES?

DES is a poorly understood disorder. It is related to a motor abnormality of the esophagus, however the specific cause is unknown.

How is it diagnosed?

It is essential that heart disease, if considered, be excluded when evaluating patients with chest pains suggestive of DES. There are several diagnostic tools that are used to determine the presence of a diffuse esophageal spasm:

  • Barium Swallow
  • EGD: Esophagogastroduodenoscopy 
  • Esophageal Manometry

What is the treatment process for Diffuse Esophageal Spasm?

There are several treatment methods available for treating DES.
  • Medication: there are medications available that can relax the muscles of the esophagus. While medication may help some patients, it is not effective in all patients. 
  • Surgery: surgery is generally reserved for very difficult cases or as a last resort in DES. The surgical procedure used to treat DES involves cutting the muscles of the lower esophagus to help relax the esophagus. It may be done through an incision in the chest or abdomen.