Diagnostic yield in the evaluation of dysphagia: Experience at a single tertiary care center

J. Bill, S. Rajagopal, V. Kushnir, C. P. Gyawali

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11 Scopus citations


Evaluation of dysphagia typically starts with esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD); further testing is pursued if this is negative. When no mucosal, structural, or motor esophageal disorders are identified with persisting symptoms, functional dysphagia is considered. We evaluated outcomes in patients undergoing EGD for dysphagia, and estimated prevalence of functional dysphagia. The endoscopy database at single tertiary care center was interrogated to identify EGDs performed for an indication of 'dysphagia' over a 12-month period (2008-09). Electronic medical records were reviewed over the next 8 years to assess if an etiology was identified. Data were analyzed to assess the diagnostic yield of endoscopy and subsequent tests in the evaluation of dysphagia. Of 5486 EGDs, 822 (15.0%) were performed for dysphagia in 694 patients (58.4 ± 0.6 year, range: 18-95 year, 55.8% female). Of these, 529 (76.2%) had EGD findings that explained dysphagia; another 22 (3.2%) had findings on histopathology. Of the remainder 143 patients (20.6%) with normal index EGD, 38 (26.6%) patients underwent barium esophagram with 15 (39.5%) having abnormal studies. 19 patients (13.3%) underwent esophageal high resolution manometry with 12 (63.2%) being abnormal, and 7 had a mechanism for dysphagia on alternate testing. A repeat EGD was abnormal in 6 patients, while 45 patients were lost to follow-up. 42 patients had complete resolution of symptoms despite normal endoscopy, of which 30 were treated empirically with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). Only 16 patients had no findings on evaluation, and had continued dysphagia symptoms, representing true functional dysphagia in 2.3% of all dysphagia patients and 11.2% of patients with normal EGD. Endoscopy remains the test with the highest yield (over 75%) for a diagnosis in patients presenting with dysphagia; secondary tests are useful when endoscopy does not provide a diagnosis. Benign strictures and GERD-related etiologies are leading causes; PPI therapy is useful even when testing is negative. Functional dysphagia is extremely rare, accounting for <2.5% of all dysphagia.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDiseases of the Esophagus
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Barium radiography
  • Dysphagia
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy
  • High-resolution manometry


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