A 65-year-old woman suffered from both chronic gas-troesophageal reflux, which was complicated by columnar metaplasia (Barrett's epithelium), and profound hypothyroidism. An esophageal motility tracing showed absence of peristalsis in the lower esophagus and the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) could not be identified. Thyroid replacement therapy, in conjunction with antacid and cimetidine treatment, was associated not only with improvement in the gastroesophageal reflux symptoms, but also with a return of esophageal persistalsis and LES pressure to normal. To support our clinical observations, we rendered four cats hypothyroid with 131I and documented a fall in LES pressure. We propose that abnormal smooth-muscle function of the esophagus may be another manifestation of the gastrointestinal motility disturbances which are associated with hypothyroidism.
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