It is a common observation that stricture patients with severe dysphagia may have a wide lumen, while others with a narrow stricture have few swallowing complaints. In 64 patients with benign oesophageal stricture the dysphagia score (determined by questionnaire and by a test meal both based on nine different items of food scored according to their solidity) was compared with the diameter of the stricture measured radiologically by premeasured barium spheres. There was evidence of an association, but the correlation coefficient (r) was 0.544 (p = 0.0001), suggesting that the diameter of the stricture is an important, although not the sole, determinant of dysphagia. Stricture diameter explains 29.6% (r2) of variation in dysphagia score. The patients (mean dysphagia score 71 of a maximum possible 90) were divided into three groups according to the severity of oesophagitis (19 patients had minimal, 22 moderate and 23 severe oesophagitis). Analysis revealed the mean dysphagia score to be 83, 73, 59 in each group respectively. Dysphagia score of each group was significantly different from the others (Kruskal-Wallis test). Relating the dysphagia score to stricture diameter for each group gives correlation coefficient r = 0.379 (p = 0.110) in the minimal oesophagitis group, r = 0.651 (p = 0.001) in the moderate group, r = 0.583 (p = 0.004) in the severe group. If both diameter and severity of oesophagitis are included then 66.0% of the variation can be explained. It is concluded that the degree of oesophagitis is as important as luminal diameter in determining swallowing ability.
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