Doctor's Responses Archive

Viewer Question:

Your website was a wealth of information for me, and I truly appreciate it. I have been told that my 15 year old son probably has "rings" or "webs" where his esophagus meets his stomach, and the result is "food feels stuck" up in his throat/esophagus area. He has been scoped for tumors, and they found none. My question with regard to these "rings" is, If I decide to have his esophagus "stretched" or ballooned as has been a possible suggestion, is this a ONE time deal or will this stretching recede over time, and the surgery need to be repeated again? I truly thank you for your time.

Doctors' Response:

Webs and rings must be differentiated from strictures. Webs are thin ridges of tissue that protrude into the esophageal lumen from the surrounding esophageal wall and narrow the lumen. They may involve the entire wall of the esophagus (360 degrees) or only part of it. They are easily ruptured with simple stretching, and usually do not recur. Nevertheless, they can recur and require additional stretching. If it turns out that repeated stretching is required, webs or rings may be treated more permanently by using an electrosurgical instrument that is passed through an endoscope to cut the web or ring.

Strictures that narrow the lumen of the esophagus usually are much broader than webs or rings. They are most likely to occur when there is inflammation and scarring of the esophagus, most commonly from acid reflux. Strictures can be stretched, but they more frequently require restretching than webs or rings. Stretching of strictures usually is combined with maximum treatment for acid reflux in order to prevent further scarring and narrowing of the esophagus. Permanent treatment of strictures requires surgery.

Thank you for your question.

Jay Marks, M.D.
Last Editorial Review: 7/19/2002