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Esophageal Stricture Specialist

Digestive Disease Specialists

Gastroenterology Practice located in Moline, IL & Bettendorf, IA

An esophageal stricture can make it difficult to swallow even relatively small amounts of food. The team at Digestive Disease Specialists in Moline, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, can diagnose the cause of your stricture and provide treatment that restores normal swallowing function. Schedule an evaluation with these experts today by calling the nearest office or requesting an appointment online.

Esophageal Stricture Q&A

What is an esophageal stricture?

An esophageal stricture is the narrowing of the muscular tube (esophagus) that carries the food and beverages you consume to your stomach.

Depending on the extent of the stricture, your symptoms may include:

  • Burning discomfort in your throat when swallowing solids or liquids
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Sensation that food gets stuck in your throat
  • Episodes of choking that become more frequent as the condition worsens

Esophageal stricture can make it uncomfortable to swallow and may cause various levels of dehydration and malnutrition.

It can also lead to aspiration pneumonia that develops when food or liquids enter your airways during swallowing and result in bacterial growth. A severe esophageal stricture may eventually cause tears in the tissue lining the esophagus.

What causes esophageal stricture?

The most common cause of esophageal stricture is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which causes stomach acids to backflow into the esophagus. This corrosive substance can damage the lining of your esophagus and eventually lead to esophageal scarring and narrowing.

Other conditions that may cause esophageal stricture include:

  • An immune reaction (eosinophilic esophagitis) that causes inflammation
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Changes related to previous radiotherapy for cancer 
  • Tissue trauma caused by accidental ingestion of chemicals
  • Scarring related to previous esophageal surgery

Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) is not always related to esophageal stricture. Various neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis or damage sustained during a stroke can weaken muscles in your esophagus and make swallowing difficult.

How do you treat esophageal stricture?

Before recommending treatment, your provider at Digestive Disease Specialists performs studies to confirm the diagnosis, which may include:

  • A swallowing study
  • Ultrasound
  • Endoscopy
  • Esophageal manometry

Most often, treatment for esophageal stricture includes widening the esophagus with a medical balloon or device called a dilator.

During this outpatient endoscopic procedure, your provider inserts the device into the narrowed opening and stretches the restricted area. Sedation and a topical anesthetic applied to the throat keep you comfortable during esophageal dilation.

Your gastroenterologist at Digestive Disease Specialists then develops a treatment strategy that addresses the underlying cause of the stricture. 

GERD, for instance, typically responds to dietary changes and prescription medications that reduce acid reflux and help prevent the tissue damage that causes esophageal stricture.

If you’re having problems swallowing, schedule a visit at Digestive Disease Specialists today. Call the nearest office or request an appointment online.