Neurophysiology and new techniques to assess esophageal sensory function: an update

Christina Brock, Richard W. McCallum, C. Prakash Gyawali, Adam D. Farmer, Jens Brøndum Frøkjær, Barry P. McMahon, Asbjørn Mohr Drewes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This review aims to discuss the neurophysiology of the esophagus and new methods to assess esophageal nociception. Pain and other symptoms can be caused by diseases in the mucosa or muscular or sphincter dysfunction, together with abnormal pain processing, either in the peripheral or central nervous systems. Therefore, we present new techniques in the assessment of esophageal function and the potential role of the mucosal barrier in the generation and propagation of pain. We discuss the assessment and role of esophageal sphincters in nociception, as well as imaging and electrophysiological techniques, with examples of their use in understanding the sensory system following noxious stimuli to the esophagus. Additionally, we discuss the mechanisms behind functional diseases of the esophagus. We conclude that the new methods have identified many of the mechanisms behind malfunction of the mucosa, disturbances of muscular and sphincter functions, and the central response to different stimuli. Taken together, this has increased our understanding of esophageal disorders and may lead to new treatment modalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-90
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • brain
  • esophagus
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • pain
  • sphincter


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