Tertiary esophageal contractions

Last revised by Liz Silverstone on 8 Apr 2024

Tertiary esophageal contractions are non-propulsive contractions of the esophagus which are seen as uncoordinated contractions of the distal esophageal wall. Isolated tertiary esophageal waves of the non-repetitive type are thought to occur in normal subjects. Swallowing-induced repetitive tertiary waves are considered abnormal.

Tertiary waves (especially if repetitive or prolonged) have been observed in certain pathological situations such as:

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