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Dysphagia Lusoria

By Kristle Lee Lynch, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at The University of Pennsylvania

Dysphagia lusoria is difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) caused by compression of the esophagus by an abnormally formed blood vessel that is present at birth.

The esophagus is the hollow tube that leads from the throat (pharynx) to the stomach.

Dysphagia lusoria is a birth defect. However, the swallowing difficulty may not appear until childhood or later in life, because that is when degenerative changes occur in the abnormally formed blood vessel.

A barium swallow x-ray shows the compression, but angiography (injecting a blood vessel with a dye that can be seen on x-rays) is necessary for an accurate diagnosis of dysphagia lusoria.

Most people require no treatment, but surgical repair is sometimes done.