- Previous manometric studies of esophageal fluid bolus transport in humans have generally ignored the hydrodynamic distinction between intrabolus pressure and pressure within the lumen-occluded, contracting esophageal segment. In this study we obtained concurrent esophageal videofluoroscopic and intraluminal manometric recordings in supine normal volunteers using different bolus volumes and viscosities and abdominal compression. Intrabolus pressure increased with bolus volume, viscosity, and abdominal compression. Esophageal diameter increased with larger bolus volumes, and this increase was correlated with increases in intrabolus pressure. Intrabolus pressure was highest in the bolus tail. Peak intraluminal pressures > 20 mmHg above basal intrabolus pressure almost invariably were associated with effective peristalsis, whereas values of this pressure differential < 20 mmHg frequently were associated with ineffective peristalsis and retrograde bolus escape. Intrabolus pressure can serve as an important indicator of the forces resisting peristaltic transport and the occurrence of ineffective bolus transport.