Psychogenic dysphagia and globus: Reevaluation of 23 patients
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Despite warnings against attributing dysphagia to psychological causes, the diagnoses of “psychogenic dysphagia” or “globus hystericus” have been previously applied to 13% of patients referred to the Johns Hopkins Swallowing Center. This paper reports the results of reevaluation of 23 patients previously diagnosed as having symptoms of psychogenic origin. The Swallowing Center evaluation documented an explanation for symptoms in 15 (65%). No cause of dysphagia could be documented in eight patients. All five patients with the “globus sensation” had a documentable abnormality of swallowing. Overall, nine patients had esophageal pathology, while six had pharyngeal disease. Five had structural lesions constricting the lumen, while 10 had motor dysfunction of either the pharynx or esophagus. Review of the referral records of these patients indicates the quality of prior evaluation for patients previously labeled as having a swallowing disorder of psychogenic origin is variable, and that once attribution of symptoms to psychogenic causes is made, the diagnosis is rarely reconsidered. We conclude that attribution of the diagnosis of psychogenic dysphagia should be made with caution, and only after thorough evaluation. Any change or progression of symptoms should prompt a careful re-evaluation.
Key wordsPsychogenic, globus
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