The impact of continuous positive airway pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter

K. Shepherd, R. Holloway, D.R. Hillman, Peter Eastwood

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44 Citations (Scopus)


The lower esophageal sphincter ( LES) is the primary barrier to gastroesophageal reflux. Reflux is associated with periods of LES relaxation, as occurs during swallowing. Continuous positive airway pressure ( CPAP) has been shown to reduce reflux in individuals with and without sleep apnea, by an unknown mechanism. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of CPAP on swallow- induced LES relaxation. Measurements were made in 10 healthy, awake, supine individuals. Esophageal ( Pes), LES ( Ples), gastric ( Pg), and barrier pressure to reflux ( Pb = Ples - Pg) were recorded using a sleeve catheter during five swallows of 5 ml of water. This was repeated at four levels of CPAP ( 0, 5, 10, and 15 cmH(2)O). Pressures were measured during quiet breathing and during the LES relaxation associated with a swallow. Duration of LES relaxation was also recorded. During quiet breathing, CPAP significantly increased end- expiratory Pes, Ples, Pg, and Pb ( P < 0.05). The increase in Pb was due to a disproportionate increase in Ples compared with Pg ( P < 0.05). During a swallow, CPAP increased nadir Ples, Pg, and Pb and decreased the duration of LES relaxation ( 4.1 s with 0-cmH(2)O CPAP to 1.6 s on 15-cmH(2)O CPAP, P < 0.001). Pb increased with CPAP by virtue of a disproportionate increase in Ples compared with Pg. This may be due to either reflex activation of LES smooth muscle, or nonspecific transmission of pressure to the LES. The findings suggest CPAP may make the LES less susceptible to reflux by increasing Pb and decreasing the duration of LES relaxation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G1200-G1205
JournalAmerican journal of of physiology : gastrointestinal and liver physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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