Cricopharyngeal muscle spasm

Last revised by Dr Bálint Botz on 15 May 2022

Cricopharyngeal muscle spasm is also known as cricopharyngeal achalasia, although some authors distinguish between these entities, and may present as a cause of dysphagia.

There is confusing use of the terms cricopharyngeal muscle spasm, cricopharyngeal achalasia and cricopharyngeal bar

Cricopharyngeal bar refers to the radiographic appearance of a prominent cricopharyngeus muscle contour but is not synonymous with cricopharyngeal muscle spasm/achalasia, which is one of the underlying pathologies that can cause the appearance of one. 

In most patients the exact etiology for this spasm is unknown. Some associated predisposing conditions include:

Presents as a cricopharyngeal bar, which is seen as a relatively constant impression on the posterior aspect of esophagus at C5-6 level. Cricopharyngeal spasm can be diagnosed with manometry. 

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1
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  • Case 2: Cricopharyngeal muscle spasm and mixed hiatus hernia
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  • Case 3
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