The effect of pentagastrin on oesophageal motility was studied in six subjects with idiopathic diffuse oesophageal spasm (IDOS). Pentagastrin was administered by continuous intravenous infusion in doses of 1 microgram/kg/h, 5 micrograms/kg/h, and 10 micrograms/kg/h. Saline infusion was used as a control. No subject experienced pain during pentagastrin infusion. Two developed dysphagia and repetitive contractions with 'wet' swallows during the saline infusion and the lowest pentagastrin infusion. Contraction amplitude was increased only with 'dry' swallows during the 10 micrograms/kg/h infusion period. Contraction duration was increased with both 'wet' and 'dry' swallows during the 1 microgram/kg/h infusions, and with 'dry' swallows during the 10 micrograms/kg/h infusion. Propagation velocity was not altered by pentagastrin. We conclude that gastrin released physiologically by eating probably does not contribute to symptom production in IDOS. Moreover, it seems unlikely that pentagastrin, at least in these doses, can be exploited for diagnostic purposes.
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