In children technical limitations of upper oesophageal sphincter manometry have restricted investigation to the pull through technique under sedation. In this study we have used an adapted sleeve manometric technique for upper oesophageal sphincter monitoring in unsedated children and determined the influence of the state of arousal on upper oesophageal sphincter pressure. Twenty six children aged 3 to 42 months (median 17.5 months), who were referred for evaluation of oesophageal motor function, were studied with dual sleeve manometric assemblies which monitored upper and lower oesophageal sphincter pressures simultaneously. Pharyngeal, oesophageal body, and gastric pressures were also monitored with seven perfused side holes. Recordings were made for four hours after a meal and were technically successful in 24 children. The child's state of arousal was scored every 12th minute as follows: (A) resting, eyes closed, (B) resting, eyes open, (C) moving but comfortable, (D) restless and uncomfortable, (E) crying. In 67% of the 12 minute samples the children showed good adaptation to the procedure (arousal states A to C). There was a highly significant difference in upper oesophageal sphincter pressure between each of the arousal states (p less than 0.0001), being lowest in category A at (mean (SD) 18.1 (10.3) mmHg and highest in category D 55.7 (13.2) mm Hg. Abrupt changes in the state of arousal were associated with equally abrupt changes in upper oesophageal sphincter pressure. The state of arousal of unsedated children has an important influence on upper oesophageal sphincter pressure. It is essential that this factor is controlled for in any studies of upper oesophageal sphincter tone in children. The sleeve technique is capable of monitoring upper oesophageal sphincter motility for prolonged periods in unsedated children.
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