What Is the Treatment for Esophageal Rings or Webs?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

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?

Doctor's 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.

Medical Author: Jay Marks, M.D.

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Reviewed on 1/11/2018
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