The esophagus is the muscular tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. Your esophagus plays an important role in keeping you healthy. Without it, you would not be able to consume food normally. Certain medical conditions can cause your esophagus to narrow so that swallowing becomes more difficult. This condition is known as esophageal stricture and it can lead to serious medical consequences.
Who gets esophageal stricture?
According to New York University’s Langone Medical Center, people who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are the most likely to have problems with esophageal stricture. GERD causes stomach acid to flow into the esophagus, which can cause scarring that narrows the tube. An article by EMedicine.com reports that between 70 and 80 percent of people who have esophageal stricture got it because they suffer from acid reflux caused by GERD. About 40 percent of American adults experience symptoms of GERD.
Esophageal stricture can also be caused by esophageal cancer, the presence of a hiatal hernia, infections, injuries caused by a nasogastric or endoscopic tube, ingesting corrosive substances, and certain medications. For that reason, anyone who suspects that they might have esophageal stricture should see a physician for an evaluation.
What are the symptoms of esophageal stricture?
People who have esophageal stricture may have difficulty or pain while swallowing. They may experience unintentional weight loss and regurgitate their food. In severe cases, food can actually get stuck in the esophagus.
How is esophageal stricture diagnosed?
Esophageal stricture is usually diagnosed by a gastroenterologist, a physician who specializes in disorders of the digestive system. After taking a detailed medical history and performing a physical exam, the physician will run tests that may include a barium swallow and endoscopy. Physicians can also use computerized tomography and endoscopic ultrasonography for diagnostic purposes.
How is esophageal stricture treated?
Treatment of esophageal stricture may depend on the underlying cause of the condition. One treatment option is esophageal dilation, which involves having the physician stretch and widen the esophagus by passing an endoscope with a balloon or plastic dilator from the mouth to the stomach. Most patients will be sedated for this procedure and it will likely have to be repeated several times. If the stricture is caused by GERD, the physician will probably also prescribe acid blocking medications that will prevent more scarring and esophageal stricture.
Esophageal stricture can be prevented by avoiding ingesting corrosive substances and effectively treating GERD promptly.
Esophageal Stricture http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=100271
Esophageal Stricture http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/175098-overview