Ineffective esophageal motility is not a contraindication to total fundoplication.

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Surgical endoscopy


IEM; Ineffective esophageal motility; Total fundoplication


INTRODUCTION: Ineffective esophageal motility (IEM) is a physiologic diagnosis and is a component of the Chicago Classification. It has a strong association with gastroesophageal reflux and may be found during work-up for anti-reflux surgery. IEM implies a higher risk of post-op dysphagia if a total fundoplication is done. We hypothesized that IEM is not predictive of dysphagia following fundoplication and that it is safe to perform total fundoplication in appropriately selected patients.

METHODS: Retrospective chart review of patients who underwent total fundoplication between September 2012 and December 2018 in a single foregut surgery center and who had IEM on preoperative manometry. We excluded patients who had partial fundoplication, previous foregut surgery, other causes of dysphagia or an esophageal lengthening procedure. Dysphagia was assessed using standardized Dakkak score ≤ 40 and GERD-HRQL question 7 ≥ 3.

RESULTS: Two hundred patients were diagnosed with IEM and 31 met the inclusion criteria. Median follow-up: 706 days (IQR 278-1348 days). No preoperative factors, including subjective dysphagia, transit on barium swallow, or individual components of manometry showed statistical correlation with postoperative dysphagia. Of 9 patients with preoperative dysphagia, 2 (22%) had persistent postoperative dysphagia and 7 had resolution. Of 22 patients without preoperative dysphagia, 3 (14%) developed postoperative dysphagia; for a combined rate of 16%. No patient needed re-intervention beyond early recovery or required reoperation for dysphagia during the follow-up period.

CONCLUSION: In appropriately selected patients, when total fundoplication is performed in the presence of preoperative IEM, the rate of long-term postoperative dysphagia is similar to the reported rate of dysphagia without IEM. With appropriate patient selection, total fundoplication may be performed in patients with IEM without a disproportionate increase in postoperative dysphagia. The presence of preoperative IEM should not be rigidly applied as a contraindication to a total fundoplication.

Clinical Institute



Swedish Thoracic Surgery