Dysphagia: Definition

Patients with this disorder have problems with the initial stages of swallowing. They may have difficulty delivering food to the larynx. If the food passes normally to the larynxopharynx, the presence of pain, intra- or extraluminal mass lesion, or neuromuscular disorder may interfere with the ordered sequence of pharyngeal contraction, closure of the epiglottis, relaxation of the upper esophageal sphincter and the occurrence of peristalsis, contraction of the striated muscle of the upper esophagus.

Diagnostic approach of Dysphagia

Consistency of foods causing dysphagia. As mentioned before, a motility disorder usually causes dysphagia to both liquids and solids from the onset of the symptoms, whereas a structural disorder causes dysphagia to solids first and, if the lesion further compromises the esophageal lumen, progressively to semisolids and liquids.


The esophagus is a muscular tube measuring about 25 cm (40 cm from the incisor teeth) extending from the pharynx at the cricoid cartilage to the cardia of the stomach. It pierces the left crus of the diaphragm and has an intraabdominal portion of about 1.5 cm in length.