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Gastrointestinal

Lower esophageal ring

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Definition

A lower esophageal ring is an abnormal ring of tissue that forms where the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach) and stomach meet.

Alternative Names

Esophagogastric ring; Schatzki's ring

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

A lower esophageal ring is a birth defect of the esophagus that occurs in 4% of people. It causes narrowing of the lower esophagus.

Narrowing of the esophagus may also be caused by:

  • Injury
  • Tumors
  • Other causes (See: Esophageal stricture)

Symptoms

For most people, lower esophageal ring does not cause symptoms.

The most common symptom is a sensation that food, especially solids, is stuck in the lower neck or under the breastbone (sternum) when it is swallowed.

Signs and tests

Tests that show the lower esophageal ring include:

  • EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy)
  • Upper GI (x-ray with barium)

Treatment

Treatment involves stretching the ring by passing a device called a dilator through the area. Sometimes, a balloon is placed in the area and inflated, which helps widen the abnormal ring.

Expectations (prognosis)

Swallowing problems may return. Repeated treatments may be needed.

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have swallowing problems.

References

Long JD, Orlando RC. Anatomy, histology, embryology, and developmental anomalies of the esophagus. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2010: chap 41.

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