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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Esophageal Obstruction
      Category : Health Centers > Digestive System

Esophageal Obstruction

Alternate Names : Blockage of the Esophagus

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Esophageal obstruction is a blockage or narrowing of the esophagus, the muscular tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. This condition usually causes problems with swallowing.

What is going on in the body?

Esophageal obstruction occurs when an abnormality, injury, or disease narrows the esophagus. Once the tube narrows, swallowing becomes difficult. If the esophagus gets completely blocked, swallowing cannot occur. At that point, vomiting occurs and sometimes stomach content leaks into the lungs. This can cause a serious problem called aspiration pneumonia.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Esophageal obstruction can occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • abnormal structures. A person may be born with an abnormal esophagus, such as esophageal atresia. It may have extra tissue, called esophageal webs, crossing through it. There may also be a ring of thick muscle around the esophagus, called Schatzki's ring.
  • injury. Children who swallow lye products, such as drain cleaners, can develop esophageal stricture, or narrowing. A person may also be injured during an endoscopy, the examination of the esophagus and stomach with a lighted tube.
  • prolonged use of a nasogastric, or stomach, tube which can causeesophageal stricture
  • infection by certain viruses and bacteria, which can cause narrowing of the esophagus
  • other diseases, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease. In this condition, stomach acids come up into the esophagus and cause damage.
  • esophageal cancer, which can cause narrowing or blockage


    Next section


    Esophageal Obstruction: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: William M. Boggs, MD
    Reviewer: Eric Berlin, MD
    Date Reviewed: 09/19/01

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