Cricopharyngeal muscle spasm

Last revised by Mostafa Elfeky on 5 Dec 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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