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Ambulatory oesophageal manometry and pH monitoring for investigation of chest pain: a New Zealand experience.

AIMS: Patients with chest pain of uncertain origin are often referred to gastroenterology to assess for possible oesophageal causes. Oesophageal spasm is difficult to ascertain with stationary manometry, as pain seldom occurs during this brief study. Twenty-four-hour ambulatory manometry and oesophageal pH recording (AMP) offers the opportunity to correlate pain symptoms with abnormal motility or acid reflux for more definitive diagnosis. AMP has been available at Christchurch Hospital since 2000 and we describe our experience.

METHODS: Thirty-seven patients (23 female, 14 male) underwent AMP between January 2000 and January 2004. Tracings were analysed by automated software and manually by an experienced scientist and gastroenterologist. Case-notes were reviewed for history and drug data.

RESULTS: Thirty-three patients (89%) experienced typical pain and/or dysphagia symptoms during AMP. Twenty-one had no correlation between symptoms and pH or manometric abnormalities, excluding reflux disease or an oesophageal hypercontractile disorder as a cause of symptoms. Only one patient had oesophageal spasm proven. One patient's pain correlated strongly with acid reflux. Seven others had reflux episodes during AMP with less consistent pain correlation. At least six patients required treatment for ischaemic heart disease after a negative AMP result.

CONCLUSIONS: AMP has been a useful additional investigation for chest pain and was able to exclude oesophageal causes of pain in most patients studied. Oesophageal spasm appears to be a rare cause of chest pain in Christchurch. When a diagnosis was made on AMP, it was most often gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.

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