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Doctors Hospital of Augusta

Esophageal Stricture


Esophageal stricture is the narrowing of the esophagus. The esophagus is a muscular tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. Esophageal stricture makes it hard to swallow and move contents downward.

Esophageal Stricture
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Esophageal stricture is typically caused by scar tissue that develops as a result of the following:

  • Ingestion of damaging substances, such as household cleaning agents
  • Treatment of esophageal varices—enlarged veins in the esophagus
  • Injuries caused by an endoscope—a thin, lighted tube used to see inside the body
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Tracheoesophageal malformations

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of esophageal stricture include:


Esophageal stricture may cause:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Regurgitation of food—when food flows back from the stomach into the esophagus or mouth
  • Large chunks of food to get stuck in the esophagus


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:

Esophageal Dilation

Esophageal dilation is a procedure your doctor performs to stretch or widen your esophagus. An endoscope will be passed through your mouth and into the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine. A small balloon or tapered plastic dilators will be used to stretch your esophagus. Repeat dilations are often required to adequately stretch the esophagus.

Proton Pump Inhibitors

When esophageal stricture is caused by GERD, proton pump inhibitors or acid-blocking medications are used to prevent the stricture from returning.


Surgery may be necessary if the stricture is too tight or wide.


To help reduce your chance of esophageal stricture:

  • Follow your treatment plan if you have been diagnosed with GERD.
  • Treat any other high risk cause as directed by your doctor.
  • Avoid ingesting corrosive substances.
  • Keep corrosive substances locked up and away from children.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
  • Review Date: 06/2016 -
  • Update Date: 06/18/2014 -
  • Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians

  • American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

  • Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

  • The College of Family Physicians of Canada

  • Caustic esophageal stricture. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated July 2, 2010. Accessed July 15, 2013.

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated June 25, 2013. Accessed June 16, 2014.

  • Oesophageal strictures, webs, and rings. Patient UK website. Available at: Updated March 18, 2011. Accessed July 15, 2013.

  • Understanding esophageal dilation. American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy website. Available at: Accessed July 15, 2013.