(See also Overview of Esophageal and Swallowing Disorders Overview of Esophageal and Swallowing Disorders The swallowing apparatus consists of the pharynx, upper esophageal (cricopharyngeal) sphincter, the body of the esophagus, and the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The upper third of the esophagus... read more .)
The etiology of lower esophageal rings is controversial; the leading theories are that they are congenital, or caused by acid reflux or pill-induced esophagitis.
These rings cause intermittent dysphagia Dysphagia Dysphagia is difficulty swallowing. The condition results from impeded transport of liquids, solids, or both from the pharynx to the stomach. Dysphagia should not be confused with globus sensation... read more for solids. Symptoms can begin at any age but usually do not begin until after age 25. The swallowing difficulty comes and goes and is especially aggravated by meat and dry bread. Symptoms usually occur only when the esophageal lumen is < 12 mm in diameter and never when it is > 20 mm.
Typically, evaluation of dysphagia Testing Dysphagia is difficulty swallowing. The condition results from impeded transport of liquids, solids, or both from the pharynx to the stomach. Dysphagia should not be confused with globus sensation... read more begins with upper endoscopy, which should show a ring large enough to cause symptoms. If the distal esophagus is adequately distended, barium x-rays usually also show the ring.
Instructing the patient to chew food thoroughly is usually the only treatment required in wider rings, but narrow-lumen rings require dilation by endoscopy or bougienage. Surgical resection is rarely required.