MSD Manual

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Obstructive Disorders of the Esophagus


Kristle Lee Lynch

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

Last full review/revision Sep 2020| Content last modified Sep 2020
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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 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

For evaluation of potential esophageal obstruction, see Dysphagia.

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

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