Esophageal Stricture: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
The esophagus is a muscular tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. An esophageal stricture is a condition in which the esophagus narrows, making it difficult to swallow. The condition can occur at any age but is more common in older adults. This article will discuss the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of esophageal stricture.
Causes of Esophageal Stricture
There are several causes of esophageal stricture, including:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): GERD is a chronic digestive disorder in which stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing inflammation and scarring.
- Eosinophilic esophagitis is a condition in which a type of white blood cell called eosinophils builds up in the esophagus, causing inflammation and scarring.
- Injury or trauma to the esophagus: This can be caused by swallowing corrosive substances, such as lye or acid.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy for cancer can cause scarring and narrowing of the esophagus.
- Surgery: Certain types of surgery, such as esophagectomy (surgical removal of part or all of the esophagus), can cause scarring and narrowing of the remaining esophagus.
Symptoms of Esophageal Stricture
The symptoms of esophageal stricture can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Common symptoms include:
Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
The sensation of food getting stuck in the chest or throat
Regurgitation of food or liquids
Diagnosis of Esophageal Stricture
If you are experiencing symptoms of esophageal stricture, your doctor may recommend several tests to diagnose the condition. These tests may include:
Upper endoscopy is a procedure in which a thin, flexible tube with a camera on end is inserted through the mouth and into the esophagus to examine the area for inflammation or scarring.
Barium swallow: This is a diagnostic test in which you will be asked to drink a liquid containing barium, which will show up on X-rays and allow your doctor to see any abnormalities in the esophagus.
Esophageal manometry: This test measures the pressure in the esophagus to evaluate its functioning.
Treatment of Esophageal Stricture
The treatment of esophageal stricture depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Treatment options may include:
Medications: If GERD causes stricture, medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or H2 blockers may be prescribed to reduce acid production and inflammation.
Dilation: This is a procedure in which a balloon or other device is used to widen the esophagus.
Stent placement: In some cases, a stent (a small, mesh-like tube) may be placed in the esophagus to keep it open.
Surgery: If the stricture is severe or other treatments have not been effective, surgery may be necessary to remove the affected part of the esophagus or reconstruct the esophagus.
In conclusion, esophageal stricture is a condition in which the esophagus narrows, making it difficult to swallow. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including GERD, injury or trauma, and radiation therapy. If you are experiencing symptoms of esophageal stricture, it is important to seek medical attention