Esophageal motility disorders are diseases caused by abnormal esophageal muscle function. The muscles in the wall of the esophagus contract and relax in an organized fashion to propel food from the mouth into the stomach.
Abnormal muscle function can cause difficulty swallowing and sometimes even chest pain.
Symptoms are typically initially evaluated by barium x-ray studies or by passing a flexible tube through the mouth into the esophagus to directly visual the lining of the esophagus (a procedure called an endoscopy).
Further investigation may include an esophageal motility study, which is a procedure to assess the motor or muscle function of the esophagus. During this procedure, a very thin, flexible tube is passed through the nose into the esophagus. The motor function of the esophagus can then be investigated as the patient swallows.
Treatment options include dietary modification and medications which promote appropriate esophageal muscle function.