Patients usually complain about food travelling very slowly down to the stomach, discomfort behind the chest, or even food becoming lodged in the esophagus.
A visual examination of the esophagus can reveal abnormal contractions. A Barium study, in which a patient swallows some barium, can also be performed to examine the contractions of the esophagus. The most accurate diagnosis is made using an esophageal manometer - a catheter placed in the esophagus while the patient swallows some water.
Treatments for esophageal dysmotility vary and usually involve treating the underlying cause of the dysmotility. Treating the dysmotility itself is difficult, especially in older patients.
Prognosis depends on the diagnosis. Some patients respond very well to intermittent dilation or to treatment of their underlying disorder, while other cases are more difficult and require medical therapy, significant surgery or a dietary modification.