Benign esophageal stricture: Definition, symptoms, and treatment

The main symptoms include:

  • difficulty swallowing
  • food coming back up the throat from the stomach
  • unintentional weight loss

There are several different treatment options for benign esophageal strictures, including:

  • Taking medications to reduce stomach acid, which can help prevent the stricture from recurring.
  • Dilating, or stretching, the esophagus.
  • Using a small tube called a stent to reopen the esophagus.
  • Surgery is sometimes necessary in severe cases.

Esophageal strictures happen when the lining of the esophagus becomes inflamed, which can cause scarring. This scarring can cause the esophagus to narrow.

Many different factors can cause a benign esophageal stricture, but gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is responsible for most cases.


People with a benign esophageal stricture may experience the following symptoms:

  • swallowing becoming difficult or painful
  • food feeling stuck in the throat
  • food returning up to the mouth from the stomach
  • unintentional weight loss
  • heartburn
  • frequent hiccupping or burping
  • coughing or choking
  • drooling
  • dehydration or malnutrition

People should see a doctor if they experience any symptoms of benign esophageal stricture. A doctor will examine the upper GI tract, which includes the esophagus and stomach.

They may use the following methods to check whether people have a benign esophageal stricture:

An upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy: An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a small light and camera at the end.

A doctor will insert this through a person’s mouth into their esophagus to examine it on a monitor.

It is also possible to use an endoscope to take a skin sample for examination under a microscope.

Barium swallow: The individual swallows a substance called barium before having an X-ray of their chest. The barium coats the inside of the upper GI and reveals any narrowing of the esophagus.

CT scan: A CT scan uses X-ray and computer technology to provide a detailed image of the esophagus.


Various treatment methods can treat benign esophageal strictures effectively.

However, esophageal strictures can reoccur, and people may need to have repeat dilations to reopen the esophagus. According to one source, 30 percent of people who have an esophageal dilation will require another dilation within a year.

If people have benign esophageal stricture as a result of GERD, they may need to make changes to their diet or lifestyle to manage the condition throughout their life.

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