Esophageal Stricture

Esophageal Stricture (narrowing): Overview

Esophageal stricture, also called benign stricture of the esophagus, is a narrowing of the esophagus, causing swallowing difficulties.

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Incidence; Causes and Development; Contributing Risk Factors

The overall incidence is about 1 in 500 people.

Causes include:

  • Reflux esophagitis (which causes constant irritation from gastric secretions)
  • Prolonged use of a nasogastric tube
  • Ingestion of corrosive substances
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Treatment of esophageal varices
  • Injuries caused by endoscopes.

Risk factors are related to the causes.

Diagnosis and Tests

Diagnosis involves using a barium swallow and/or endoscopy to show narrowing of the esophagus.

Treatment and Prevention

Dilation of the esophagus is the preferred treatment.  Repeated dilation may be necessary to prevent the recurrence of the narrowing.  If dilation is unsuccessful, surgical replacement of the esophagus with a segment of the stomach or large intestine may be attempted.

Prognosis; Complications

Recurrence of the stricture is possible.

Swallowing difficulties may lead to inadequate intake of fluids and nutrients.  There is also an increased risk (with regurgitation) of having food, fluid, or vomitus enter the lungs and cause aspiration pneumonia.

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Esophageal Stricture:

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Esophageal Stricture (narrowing):

Symptoms - Food - General

Difficulty swallowing

Difficulty swallowing, pain with swallowing, weight loss and regurgitation of food are the main symptoms.

Symptoms - Metabolic

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Esophageal Stricture (narrowing) suggests the following may be present:


Gastric/Peptic/Duodenal Ulcers

A chronic ulcer causes swelling and inflammation of the gastric and duodenal tissues.  Over time, scarring may close the pylorus, the lower end of the esophagus, thus preventing the passage of food and causing vomiting and weight loss.

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Health problems rarely occur in isolation or for obvious reasons

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Weak or unproven link: may be a sign or symptom of
Weak or unproven link:
may be a sign or symptom of
Strong or generally accepted link: is often a sign or symptom of; often suggests
Strong or generally accepted link:
is often a sign or symptom of; often suggests
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