Erroneous diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease in achalasia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Most experienced gastroenterologists have seen one or several cases of achalasia patients who have been erroneously diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or even underwent antireflux surgery. We aim to describe the current knowledge about the diagnostic features of achalasia and their overlap with GERD. Furthermore, we present 3 cases in which achalasia was mistaken for GERD. Search of the literature published in English using the PubMed database and relevant abstracts presented at international conventions. Typical features of GERD such as heartburn, retrosternal pain, esophagitis, and pathologic acid exposure can be observed in achalasia patients. Diagnostic tests such as endoscopy and radiography lack sensitivity and specificity for achalasia. Current diagnostic guidelines for antireflux surgery do not stipulate that achalasia should be ruled out preoperatively. Clinical presentation as well as the diagnostic work-up of achalasia patients can show overlap with GERD. Mistaking achalasia for GERD can be avoided by esophageal manometry and this should therefore be performed in all patients undergoing surgical fundoplication
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1020-1024
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Cite this