Peptic Stricture | Digestive Health Program | Loyola Medicine

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Peptic Stricture

Overview and Facts about Peptic Stricture

A peptic stricture occurs when the esophagus is narrowed after the lining has been damaged over time. Acid and other irritants can lead to damaged lining and ultimately scar tissue formation and obstruction of the esophagus. When this occurs, food has a more difficult time making it all the way to the stomach.

Symptoms and Signs of Peptic Stricture

Signs and symptoms of a peptic stricture can include:

  • A hoarse voice, without being sick
  • Coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath due to food getting in the lungs while regurgitating
  • Dehydration
  • Heartburn
  • Progressively greater difficulty when swallowing that worsens over time. Chest pain and increased salivation may happen after swallowing
  • Weight loss, without any attempt being made to achieve it

Causes and Risk Factors of Peptic Stricture

Causes for peptic stricture can include:

  • Accidental injury to the esophagus.
  • Esophageal cancer, which causes the same symptoms as peptic stricture.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or a persistent reflux of gastric acid in the esophagus.
  • Getting pills stuck in the throat, which can irritate the esophagus.
  • Scleroderma, which is linked to severe acid reflux and peptic stricture.
  • Swallowing chemicals that can wear away at the esophagus.

Tests and Diagnosis of Peptic Stricture

A review of your medical history and a physical exam are the first steps to confirming a diagnosis of peptic stricture. Other diagnostic tests include:

  • Endoscopy, which involves inserting an illuminated scope into the esophagus through the mouth
  • X-ray, which involves swallowing dye that helps create a clear image of the esophagus to better see the stricture, if it is there

Treatment and Care for Peptic Stricture

Your doctor will likely recommend some combination of the following treatment options and guidelines for peptic strictures:

  • Avoiding solid foods until you are able to swallow, without pain and difficulty
  • Certain medications that can stop GERD-related peptic strictures from worsening
  • Dilating the esophagus to widen the stricture
  • Having a feeding tube inserted so food can bypass the esophagus altogether
  • Removing the affected part of the esophagus and replacing it with a part of the large intestine