A prospective study into the aetiology of acute food bolus obstruction (AFBO) was carried out on 17 consecutive patients who presented with this complaint. There were nine males and eight females. Twelve patients (71 per cent) had symptoms of oesophageal disease and 10 patients (59 per cent) had prior food bolus obstruction. Investigations included endoscopy, barium swallow, oesophageal pH and manometry studies. Evidence of oesophageal pathology was found in 12/14 (86 per cent) of patients investigated. No patients had malignancy and the most common abnormality, gastroesophageal reflux (GOR) was found in eight out of 14 (57 per cent) of cases. Oesophageal dysmotility was seen in five out of 12 (42 per cent) patients who had manometric studies.
With such a high incidence of recurrence of AFBO, we suggest that patients with this condition be investigated to exclude malignancy and to identify benign oesophageal pathology using techniques such as oesophageal pH and manometry. Appropriate treatment of oesophageal disease may help prevent recurrence of this distressing condition.