A disorder of esophageal function leading to difficulty swallowing. This is a condition where a pharyngoesophageal segment fails to relax sufficiently to allow swallowed material to pass from the esophagus into the stomach.

 A neuromuscular problem where a ring of muscles  (usually the esophageal sphincter) surrounding the distal portion of the esophagus is unable to fully relax. This prevents food entering the stomach after it is swallowed.

In the broader sense, this condition refers to smooth muscle fibers at anyjunction of the gastrointestinal tract (eg openings such as the pylorus.


  • severe unremitting spasm of the lower esophagus
  • lack of peristalsis in the remaining esophagus


  • pneumatic dilatation (a therapeutic endoscopic procedure that enlarges the lumen of the esophagus.)
  • Heller esophagomyotomy
  • can be treated effectively in 65 to 90 per cent of patients

Parkman, H, P, and Reynolds, J. C. 1989. Achalasia. Gastroenterology CLinics of North America. 18(2):223-55.


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