Esophageal Achalasia

Achalasia is a defect in the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) characterized by the inability to relax and lack of a coordinated relaxation in response to swallowing. Failure of the LES to relax leads to the retention of food and upper gastrointestinal secretions in the esophagus. Patients with achalasia are at increased risk for esophageal cancer.1 The exact cause of achalasia is not known. The most widely accepted theories implicate autoimmune disorders, infectious diseases, or both. Animals with achalasia may regurgitate the undigested food from the esophagus during the course of the disease. As the disease progresses, the likelihood of aspiration pneumonia increases. Lung abscesses, productive cough, and coughing blood are some of the more severe pulmonary consequences of achalasia-associated aspiration.1


  1. Michael AJ Sawyer, MD. Achalasia (eMedicine)
  2. P. Marco Fisichella, MD. Achalasia (eMedicine)
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