Merck Manual

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Obstructive Disorders of the Esophagus


Kristle Lee Lynch

, MD, Perelman School of Medicine at The University of Pennsylvania

Reviewed/Revised Mar 2022 | Modified Sep 2022
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Most esophageal obstruction develops slowly and is incomplete when patients first seek care, typically for difficulty swallowing solids. However, sometimes complete esophageal obstruction develops suddenly because of an impacted esophageal foreign body Esophageal Foreign Bodies Food and a variety of other swallowed objects can become impacted in the esophagus. Esophageal foreign bodies cause dysphagia and sometimes lead to perforation. Diagnosis is clinical, but imaging... read more Esophageal Foreign Bodies or food bolus.

Obstruction may have intrinsic or extrinsic causes.

Intrinsic obstruction may be caused by

Extrinsic obstruction may be caused by compression resulting from

Treatment of obstruction is directed at the specific cause. Emergent upper endoscopy is essential for patients with complete obstruction.

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NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
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