- To quantify the effect of hiatus hernia (HH) on esophagogastric junction (EGJ) distensibility, eight normal subjects and nine gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) patients with HH were studied with concurrent manometry, fluoroscopy, and stepwise controlled barostatic distention of the EGJ. The minimal barostatic pressure required to open the EGJ during the interswallow period was determined. Thereafter, barium swallows were imaged in 5-mmHg increments of intrabag pressure. EGJ diameter and length were measured at each pressure during deglutitive relaxation. The EGJ opening diameter was greater in hernia patients compared with normal subjects during deglutitive relaxation at all pressures, and EGJ length was 23% shorter. EGJ opening pressure among hernia patients was lower than normal subjects during the interswallow period. In conclusion, the EGJ of GERD patients with HH was more distensible and shorter than normal subjects. These findings partially explain why HH patients are predisposed to reflux by mechanisms other than transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations, sustain greater volumes of refluxate, and have a reduced ability to discriminate gas from liquid reflux.