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Gastroenterology Research and Practice
Volume 2009, Article ID 965062, 6 pages
Research Article

Esophageal Clearance Patterns in Normal Older Adults as Documented with Videofluoroscopic Esophagram

1Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI 53792, USA
2Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, United States Department of Veteran Affairs, Madison, WI 53705, USA
3Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI 53792, USA
4Department Radiology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Pulic Health, Madison, WI 53792, USA

Received 19 December 2008; Revised 18 May 2009; Accepted 28 June 2009

Academic Editor: Prateek Sharma

Copyright © 2009 Janice Jou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Normal esophageal bolus transport in asymptomatic healthy older adults has not been well defined, potentially leading to ambiguity in differentiating esophageal swallowing patterns of dysphagic and healthy individuals. This pilot study of 24 young (45–64 years) and old (65+years) men and women was designed to assess radiographic esophageal bolus movement patterns in healthy adults using videofluoroscopic recording. Healthy, asymptomatic adults underwent videofluoroscopic esophagram to evaluate for the presence of ineffective esophageal clearance, namely, intraesophageal stasis and intraesophageal reflux. Intraesophageal stasis and intraesophageal reflux were visualized radiographically in these normal subjects. Intraesophageal stasis occurred significantly more frequently with semisolid (96%) compared with liquid (16%) barium, suggesting that a variety of barium consistencies, as opposed to only the traditional fluids, would better define the spectrum of esophageal transport. Intraesophageal reflux was observed more frequently in older males than in their younger counterparts. The rates of intraesophageal stasis and intraesophageal reflux were potentially high given that successive bolus presentations were spaced 10 seconds apart. These findings suggest a need for a more comprehensive definition regarding the range of normal esophageal bolus transport to (a) prevent misdiagnosis of dysphagia and (b) to enhance generalization to functional eating, which involves solid foods in addition to liquids.