Esophageal Stricture

Pronounced: Ee-sof-uh-gee-uhl


Esophageal stricture happens when the esophagus narrows. It’s hard to get food down the tube that goes from the mouth to the stomach. The tube is called the esophagus.

Esophageal Stricture

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Scar tissue mainly causes esophageal stricture. This may happen because of:

  • Eating or drinking harmful substances such as household cleaning agents
  • Treating esophageal varices —enlarged veins
  • Injuries caused by an endoscope—a thin, lighted tube used to see inside the body
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Structural problems

Risk Factors

Your chances of esophageal stricture is higher for:


Common symptoms:

  • Problems when you swallow such as pain
  • A feeling of food being stuck
  • Regurgitation
  • Drooling, coughing, choking
  • Problems getting enough fluids or nutrition


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may have:


You may need one or more of these:

  • Esophageal dilation —To stretch or widen the esophagus. A scope is passed through your mouth. It then goes into the esophagus. A balloon or plastic dilator will widen and open the narrowed part.
  • Medicines—In some people, GERD causes these problems. Your doctor may give you medicines. These will lower the amount of acid in the stomach. They may also help keep the narrowing from coming back.
  • Surgery—may be needed if the stricture:
    • Is severe
    • Can't be fixed with other methods


To help lower your chances of esophageal stricture:

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions on caring for certain conditions that cause it.
  • Get help right away if you or someone else swallowed harmful substances.
  • Keep harmful substances locked up and away from children.


American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians


Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
The College of Family Physicians of Canada


Caustic esophageal stricture. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated August 8, 2014. Accessed August 14, 2018.
Esophageal stricture. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: Accessed August 14, 2018.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated September 14, 2017. Accessed August 14, 2018.
Oesophageal strictures, webs, and rings. Patient website. Available at: Updated February 15, 2017. Accessed August 14, 2018.
Understanding esophageal dilation. American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy website. Available at: Accessed August 14, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 8/14/2018

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