Effects of transcranial direct current stimulation on esophageal motility in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease

Simone Vigneri*, Sebastiano Bonventre, Angela Inviati, Domenico Schifano, Giuseppe Cosentino, Angela Puma, Giuseppe Giglia, Piera Paladino, Filippo Brighina, Brigida Fierro

*Corresponding author for this work

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To evaluate the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on esophageal peristalsis in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).Patients with GERD preliminary diagnosis were included in a randomized double-blind sham-controlled study. Esophageal manometry was performed before and during transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) of the right precentral cortex. Half of patients were randomly assigned to anodal, half to sham stimulation. Distal waves amplitude and pathological waves percentage were measured, after swallowing water boli, for ten subsequent times. Last, a 24h pH-bilimetry was done to diagnose non-erosive reflux disease (NERD) or functional heartburn (FH). The values obtained before and during anodal or sham tDCS were compared.Sixty-eight patients were enrolled in the study. Distal waves mean amplitude increased significantly only during anodal tDCS in NERD (p=0.00002) and FH subgroups (p=0.008) while percentage of pathological waves strongly decreased only in NERDs (p=0.002).Transcranial stimulation can influence cortical control of esophageal motility and improve pathological motor pattern in NERD and FH but not in erosive reflux disease (ERD) patients.Pathophysiological processes in GERD are not only due to peripheral damage but to central neural control involvement as well. In ERD patients dysfunctions of the cortico-esophageal circuit seem to be more severe and may affect central nervous system physiology. International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology. Published by
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1840-1846
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • tDCS
  • Distal amplitude
  • Pathological waves
  • NERD
  • ERD
  • Sensitization

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