Definition

A lower esophageal ring is an abnormal ring of tissue that forms where the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach) and stomach meet.

Alternative Names

Esophagogastric ring; Schatzki’s ring

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

A lower esophageal ring is a birth defect of the esophagus that occurs in a small number of people. It causes narrowing of the lower esophagus.

Narrowing of the esophagus may also be caused by:

  • Injury
  • Tumors
  • Esophageal stricture

Symptoms

For most people, lower esophageal ring does not cause symptoms.

The most common symptom is the feeling that food (especially solid food) is stuck in the lower neck or under the breastbone (sternum).

Signs and tests

Tests that show the lower esophageal ring include:

  • EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy)
  • Upper GI (x-ray with barium)

Treatment

A device called a dilator is passed through the narrowed area to stretch the ring. Sometimes, a balloon is placed in the area and inflated, to help widen the ring.

Expectations (prognosis)

Swallowing problems may return. You may need repeat treatment.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have swallowing problems.

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