Barostat or dynamic balloon distention test: Which technique is best suited for esophageal sensory testing?

J. M. Remes-Troche, A. Attaluri, P. Chahal, S. S.C. Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Esophageal sensation is commonly assessed by barostat-assisted balloon distension (BBD) or dynamic balloon distension (DBD) technique, but their relative merits are unknown. Our aim was to compare the usefulness and tolerability of both techniques. Sixteen healthy volunteers (male/female = 6/10) randomly underwent graded esophageal balloon distensions, using either BBD (n= 8) or DBD (n= 8). BBD was performed by placing a 5-cm long highly compliant balloon attached to a barostat, and DBD by placing a 5-cm long balloon attached to a leveling container. Intermittent phasic balloon distensions were performed in increments of 6mmHg. Sensory thresholds and biomechanical properties were assessed and compared. Sensory thresholds for first perception (mean ± standard deviation; 21 ± 6 vs. 21.2 ± 5, mmHg, P= 0.9), discomfort (38 ± 8 vs. 35 ± 9, P= 0.5), and pain (44 ± 4 vs. 45 ± 3, P= 0.7) were similar with BBD and DBD techniques. However, more subjects tolerated DBD (7/8, 88%) when compared with BBD (4/8, 50%). Forceful expulsion of balloon into stomach (n= 4), pulling around the mouth (n= 4), chest discomfort (n= 2) and retching (n= 2) were overlapping reasons for intolerance with BBD. Esophageal wall distensibility was similar with both techniques. Both techniques provided comparable data on biomechanical properties. However, DBD was better tolerated than BBD for evaluation of esophageal sensation. Hence, we recommend DBD for performing esophageal balloon distension test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)584-589
Number of pages6
JournalDiseases of the Esophagus
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Barostat
  • Chest pain
  • Dynamic balloon distension
  • Esophagus
  • Sensory testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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