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a condition manifested by spasm of the esophagus at its point of passage into the stomach.
The causes of cardiospasm are unknown. Functional disturbance of the vagus nerve, which maintains the peristaltic activity of the esophagus, and expansion of the cardia play a major role in its origin. The condition may occur at any age, but it occurs most often between 20 and 40. It sets in with difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia), which may develop suddenly or gradually. Warm liquid food passes most easily through the esophagus of most patients, although in some cases solids are more easily swallowed. When dysphagia occurs, patients try to help the food pass through the esophagus by eating while standing or walking around or by pressing the rib cage with their hands. The retention of swallowed food dilates the esophagus above the site of constriction. Generally there are constant or intermittent pains near the xyphoid process that irradiate to the neck or heart region. If regurgitated, the stagnant food mass may flow into the respiratory tract and cause aspiration pneumonia and pulmonary abscesses. A decrease in the amount of water and food reaching the stomach may result in severe emaciation.
Cardiospasm should be treated with a hygienic regime andspecial diet. At night the esophagus should be freed from itscontents by irrigating it with warm water or camomile infusion.Antispasmodics (atropine, papaverine) and ganglioplegics areprescribed. Surgery is indicated if more conservative treatmentproves ineffective.
N. R. PALEEV