Esophageal stricture is a condition in which the esophagus gradually narrows as a result of the development of scar tissue in the esophagus, according to About.com. The scar tissue occurs due to esophageal lining damage, which eventually causes difficulty swallowing. Additionally symptoms may include food regurgitation and weight loss.
The causes of esophageal stricture include gastroesophageal reflux disease, injuries resulting from endoscopes, swallowing of corrosive substances, bacterial diseases and viral diseases, notes About.com. In gastroesophageal reflux, for instance, excess acid in the stomach moves into the esophagus, leading to esophageal swelling, which eventually scars the esophagus. When this process recurs multiple times, a ring forms in the esophagus, leading to esophageal stricture.
To diagnose esophageal stricture, a doctor conducts an endoscopy exam in which he inserts an endoscope into the esophagus and observes an image of the esophagus to determine if it is narrow, explains About.com. Alternatively, a doctor may order a barium swallow, in which the patient swallows barium and the doctor takes an esophageal X-ray to determine the presence of esophageal stricture. Once the condition is diagnosed, the doctor may recommend treatment options such as dilation, surgery or proton pump inhibitor medications, depending on the severity of the condition. Esophageal strictures sometimes recur despite treatment.