Benign (noncancerous) esophageal stricture is a condition in which the diameter of the esophagus is made narrow by scar tissue. The esophagus is the tube that brings food and liquids from your mouth to your stomach.

Even though the condition is not cancerous, it can still cause serious health issues. Narrowing of the esophagus can cause swallowing difficulty and also increases choking risk.

Causes of Benign Esophageal Stricture

Benign esophageal stricture can be caused by damage to the esophagus that results in the formation of scar tissue. The most common cause of this condition is chronic heartburn, known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which causes corrosive stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus, creating a burning sensation in the lower chest. Frequent exposure to harmful stomach acid can cause scar tissue and a subsequent narrowing of the esophagus.

Symptoms of Benign Esophageal Stricture

Typical symptoms include:

  • Dysphagia: difficulty swallowing or feeling that food is not passing into the stomach normally
  • Painful swallowing
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Regurgitation of food or liquids: substances from the stomach flow back into the esophagus or up into the mouth
  • Heartburn

If medication and esophageal dilation are ineffective, your physician may recommend esophageal surgery. A surgical procedure can repair your lower esophageal sphincter, which is the valve between your esophagus and stomach. When working properly, it prevents the reflux of acid into the esophagus; however, this valve is dysfunctional in cases of GERD. By repairing the valve, this surgical technique allows for complete control of GERD symptoms.