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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Esophageal Motility Disorders

An esophageal motility disorder (EMD) is a disorder of the esophagus that may cause swallowing difficulties, spasms of pain, or regurgitation of food. There are many types of EMDs, including:

Spastic EMD

This motility disorder may include several types, including:

  • Diffuse esophageal spasm
  • Nutracker esophagus
  • Hypertensive lower esophageal sphincter nonspecific EMD


Achalasia is a rare disorder of the esophagus that affects the ability of the esophagus to move food toward the stomach. It may occur at any age, but is typically more common in middle-aged and older persons. It may be inherited, as well.

Esophageal Scleroderma

This is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks itself, causing the scarring and thickening of the esophagus tissues. This causes abnormal functioning of the smooth muscle of the esophagus, known as esophageal scleroderma.

Diagnosis & Testing

Your doctor will consult with you about determining the type of EMD you may have, and how best to treat it. Some tests may be used to measure the pressure within the esophagus as you swallow, while others may use an endoscope (thin tube with a camera at the end of it) to examine the lining of your esophagus.


Treatments of an EMD will depend on the specific nature of the disorder. There are medications and surgical options available for the treatment of many EMDs. Your doctor will discuss the best options for you, and any potential complications that may arise from treatment.

Last UpdateJanuary 18, 2012


For more information or to make an appointment please call 312-695-3800.