Reproducibility of long-term ambulatory esophageal combined pH/manometry
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Long-term ambulatory esophageal manometry is used increasingly, but normal values and data on the reproducibility of the method are not available. Thus, studies were conducted using paired 24-hour recordings, separated by 1-4 weeks, in 24 healthy volunteers (aged 19-50). Computerized analysis of each two-channel pressure recording (5 and 15 cm above lower esophageal sphincter) determined mean contraction amplitude, duration, area under the curve, contractility and propagation velocity, and the proportion of propagated contractions during day and night periods. A combined glass pH electrode (5 cm above lower esophageal sphincter) was used to register acid reflux. Visual analysis of the 24-hour contractility patterns showed marked intraindividual reproducibility but, although most subjects showed similar meal-associated increases and sleep-associated decreases in contraction frequency and amplitude, considerable interindividual variation was observed. This was confirmed by comparing the variation between subjects in the first and second recordings with the variation between recordings in the same subject; for all pH and manometry variables, the coefficient of variation was two to three times greater between subjects than between recordings in the same subject. The recordings were highly reproducible within subjects (nighttime contraction duration, P less than 0.05; all other variables, P less than 0.01). Thus, computerized ambulatory pH manometry is reproducible and because healthy volunteers have a characteristic individual pattern of esophageal motility, the method is perfectly suitable for repeated-measure design physiological and pharmacological studies. However, generally applicable normal values are difficult to define.
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