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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


Pseudoachalasia: Still a Tough Clinical Challenge

Unusual clinical course, Challenging differential diagnosis, Unusual or unexpected effect of treatment, Diagnostic / therapeutic accidents

Yi Jia, Richard W. McCallum

USA Department of Internal Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, El Paso, TX, USA

Am J Case Rep 2015; 16:768-773

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.894444

Available online:

Published: 2015-10-29


BACKGROUND: Treatment of achalasia is focused on decreasing the resting lower esophageal sphincter by either pneumatic dilation or surgical myotomy. When patients symptomatically relapse after one or more pneumatic dilations, then one explanation is to consider the possibility of pseudoachalasia as the diagnosis.
CASE REPORT: We present a rare case of an elderly patient with a presentation of chronic dysphagia and severe weight loss, who had diagnostic findings consistent with achalasia, and who also responded very well to a series of pneumatic dilations, but for only brief intervals. Further investigations finally uncovered esophageal adenocarcinoma, thus making our patient an example of the entity “pseudoachalasia”.
CONCLUSIONS: Pseudoachalasia secondary to an esophageal malignancy should be suspected when dysphagia progresses despite technically well-performed pneumatic dilations, and is particularly suspicious in the setting of an elderly patient with marked weight loss. Endoscopic ultrasound is a new diagnostic tool for detecting and staging malignancy by obtaining diagnostic tissue and allowing appropriate therapy to be planned.

Keywords: Aged, 80 and over, Adenocarcinoma - diagnosis, Diagnosis, Differential, Endoscopy, Digestive System, Endosonography, Esophageal Achalasia - etiology, Esophageal Neoplasms - diagnosis