Esophageal Ring Stricture

ringStrictureWhat is an esophageal ring?

An esophageal ring, or Schatzki ring, is a ring of tissue near the end of the food pipe (esophagus) just above the opening to the stomach. The area with the ring is narrower than the rest of the food pipe. A stricture is a narrowing of the esophagus (food pipe).

What causes an esophageal ring and/or stricture?

Some people may have a Schatzki’s ring since birth. Sometimes, it is due to Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Stricturing, or narrowing, can be caused from acid in the stomach entering up into the esophagus causing the esophagus tissue to scar. Scar tissue may develop into a narrowing or tightness that could form a stricture which sometimes cause food, pills and/or liquids to get stuck.

What are the symptoms of an esophageal ring?

Many people have a Schatzki ring and do not know it, because most of the time a Schatzki rings causes no symptoms. Symptoms may occur when poorly chewed food gets caught at the ring before reaching the stomach. A Schatzki ring can cause chest pain or a feeling that the food is stuck and won’t move into the stomach. After the food moves into the stomach, the symptoms may go away. Sometimes people may have difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). In more severe cases, food and/or liquids get stuck and coughing, or further help is needed to move the food.

How is a Schatzki Ring Diagnosed?

Those with symptoms of difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) may have an upper endoscopy test ordered by their heath care provider. During this exam, a flexible viewing tube (endoscope) is put in the mouth down into the esophagus. The doctor can view the lining of the esophagus and the stomach. This may be done in our endoscopy center with IV (intravenous) sedation to provide comfort. The test helps to rule out other esophageal problems.

How is an esophageal ring treated?

If there are no symptoms no treatment is needed. Your health care provider may prescribe medicine, a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) to decrease the stomach acid reflux into the esophagus, and decrease scarring or narrowing. With symptoms or swallowing difficulties, the doctor may perform a procedure called an esophageal dilation using an endoscope. The doctor inserts a tube or scope down the throat through the esophagus to stretch (dilate) or break up the stricture or ring. This also can be done in our endoscopy center with IV (intravenous) sedation to provide comfort. How long the symptoms are relieved with dilations varies among people (from months to years). Esophageal dilation may need to be repeated if further narrowing and/or symptoms return over time.
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