Noncardiac chest pain remains an enigma that often defies precise diagnosis. Overlap of symptoms between esophageal and cardiac disorders may make differentiation extremely difficult. Exclusion of coronary artery disease is a key element of the management of noncardiac chest pain. Once this is accomplished, the physician can address the fears and concerns of the patient with confidence and often avoid any diagnostic studies of the esophagus. When diagnostic studies are performed, the physician should be mindful or their limitations. Since gastroesophageal reflux disease is probably the most common cause of esophageal chest pain, prompt recognition and treatment of this disorder may provide relief for many patients. Future studies should address the relationship between physiologic events in the esophagus and chest pain.
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