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Diseases reference index «Esophageal stricture - benign»

Benign esophageal stricture is a narrowing of the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach) that causes swallowing difficulties.

Causes

Esophageal stricture can be caused by:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • Long-term use of a nasogastric (NG) tube (tube through the nose into the stomach)
  • Swallowing corrosive substances
  • Infection by bacteria or a virus
  • Treatment of esophageal varices
  • Injuries caused by an endoscope

Symptoms

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain with swallowing
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Regurgitation of food

Exams and Tests

  • Barium swallow shows narrowing of the esophagus.
  • Endoscopy shows narrowing of the esophagus.

Treatment

Dilation (stretching) of the esophagus is the preferred treatment. Repeated dilation may be necessary to prevent the stricture from returning.

Proton pump inhibitors (acid-blocking medicines) can keep a peptic stricture from returning. Surgical treatment is rarely necessary.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The patient may develop the stricture again in the future.

Possible Complications

Swallowing difficulties may keep the patient from getting enough fluids and nutrients. There is also an increased risk (with regurgitation) of having food, fluid, or vomit enter the lungs and cause choking or aspiration pneumonia.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if swallowing difficulty persists.

Prevention

Use safety measures to avoid swallowing corrosive substances. Keep dangerous products out of the reach of children. See your doctor if you have GERD.

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