The esophagus is a relatively simple tubular structure that connects the throat to the stomach. The major functions of the esophagus are to transport the food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. It also allows air to be vented out of the stomach and, therefore, relieving abdominal bloating.

On occasion, a narrowed area occurs in the esophagus that results in an interruption in the normal swallowing mechanism. Passage of food or liquid may be impaired through the esophagus with a pressure-like sensation, a sensation of fullness in the chest, shortness of breath and inability to swallow food, liquids or saliva. Most often, this may only last a short time, but it may be prolonged, requiring emergency intervention.

Vimhans PrimaMed Institute of Gastroenterology & GI Surgeries provides effective care and treatment for the problems related to the esophagus, through the latest techniques.

Causes

The narrowing of the esophagus can be caused by the following conditions:

Benign Stricture- This is the commonest cause of the narrowing of the esophagus. Benign means that it isn’t caused by cancer. The basic abnormality is excessive acid reflux from the stomach up into the esophagus that results in an inflammatory reaction commonly in the lower esophagus. This inflammation often leads to the scarring after repeated injury and healing. At the end, scar tissue is formed and a benign stricture occurs in the form of a concentric ring narrowing the opening of the esophagus. Malignant Stricture- Narrowing of the esophagus may also be caused by cancerous (malignant) conditions. This form of cancer is commonly related to smoking and excessive alcohol ingestion. It is frequent in men than women. Esophageal cancer may develop everywhere along the esophagus, but it’s frequent in the lower portion.

Symptoms

Pain with swallowing
Heartburn
Trouble swallowing
Unintentional weight loss
Regurgitation of food or liquids

Treatment

Treatment for benign esophageal stricture may differ on the basis of severity and condition of the patient.

Esophageal Dilation- It is the most preferred procedures in most cases. During the procedure, the doctor inserts an endoscope through the mouth into the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Then, a small balloon on the end of the endoscope is inflated to stretch the esophagus.

Esophageal Stent Placement- A stent is a thin tube commonly made of expendable metal, plastic, or a flexible mesh material. The stents are guided and placed, using an endoscope, so that a blocked esophagus is opened and you will be able to swallow food and liquids.

Surgery- The doctors usually prefer surgery if esophageal dilation and medication are ineffective. A surgical procedure can repair LES and help prevent gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) symptoms. Surgical procedures may be difficult in rare cases where a non-functioning esophagus causes the stricture.

Treatment of a malignant stricture of the esophagus can be treated with a surgery. If the malignancy is determined to be localized and small, without any spread beyond esophagus, a surgical repair is opted. In case the tumor isn’t curable, palliative treatments, such as chemotherapy, esophageal dilation, laser treatments, injections, radiation therapy, placement of an esophageal stent, are employed to keep the esophagus open.

Locations