Alternate Names : Esophageal Stenosis
An esophageal stricture is a gradual narrowing of the tube that carries food to the stomach. It occurs when scar tissue builds up in the tube.
What is going on in the body?
The esophagus is a muscular tube that connects the throat with the stomach. After food enters the tube, muscles behind and in front of the food contract and relax in a rhythmic sequence to force it along toward the stomach.
When part of the lining of the esophagus is damaged, it may become scarred. This makes it fibrous and stiff. A build-up of scar tissue can gradually cause narrowing of part of the esophagus.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
A ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter surrounds the opening between the esophagus and the stomach. Normally, it opens to allow food to pass into the stomach. If this sphincter weakens or relaxes so that it cannot close tightly, stomach contents splash back up into the esophagus. This is called gastroesophageal reflux and is the cause of heartburn.
The lining of the esophagus is not designed for this kind of abuse. If the problem is chronic, scar tissue may form and lead to a stricture. Less common causes of stricture include:
severe or prolonged infections of the esophagus, known as esophagitis
swallowing a caustic substance, such as lye
complications of medical treatment, such as pill-induced esophagitis
cancer of the esophagus