Esophageal Ring

Esophageal ring or Schatzki’s ring is a thin band of tissue that encircles the lining of the esophagus. Sometimes, this band of tissue is thicker and more fibrous, but narrower than a ring – here, it is called an esophageal web.

Symptoms of Esophageal Rings?

The symptoms of esophageal rings and webs are:

  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Food becoming dislodged in the throat

Note that these symptoms should be occasional in nature – if they occur every day, then it is more likely that they are caused by esophageal stricture instead.


Tests to diagnose esophageal rings and webs are:

  • Meat impaction test
    A piece of meat is swallowed and monitored by barium swallow test or endoscopy. The lodged meat is then dislodged by an endoscope.

  • Iron-deficiency anemia
    A cause for esophageal webs.

  • Spooning of the fingernails and toenails
    Here, the nails appear sunken.

Cause of Esophageal Ring

Esophageal webs are caused by:

  • Iron-deficiency anemia

  • Graft-vs-host disease
    This is a disease resulting from bone marrow transplantation

  • Postcricoid cancer
    A rare form of cancer located in the upper portion of the esophagus.

Esophageal Ring Treatment

Esophageal rings and webs usually respond well to the following treatments:

  • Bougie
    A bougie (“boojie”) is a tapered device made of rubber that is used to flatten the tissue of the esophagus and to enlarge its opening.

  • Pneumatic dilator
    A balloon is placed on the narrowed portion of the esophagus and then inflated.

  • Guided wire dilator
    During endoscopy, a tapered device is threaded through the esophagus with the aid of guided wire.

  • Iron replacement
    If the condition is caused by anemia brought on by iron-deficiency, then treating the underlying problem with iron-replacement therapy would help alleviate the symptoms and reduce the chance of developing postcricoid cancer.

  • Changing eating habit
    In some cases, the occasional difficulty in swallowing associated with lower esophageal rings can be prevented simply by chewing the food more or eating smaller pieces.

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