Radiation-induced esophagitis is an injury to
the esophagus caused by radiation therapy designed
to treat cancer.
The injury can take the forms of:
- Stricture or narrowing of the esophagus
- Perforation or rupture
- Fistula or a hole in the tissue
In some cases, radiation-sensitizing drugs designed to make cancer
cells more susceptible to the radiation therapy, can also worsen
the radiation damage to the esophagus.
Symptoms of Radiation-Induced Esophagitis
The symptoms of radiation-induced esophagitis are:
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Pain during swallowing
- Vomiting food or blood
- Chest pain
- Inflammation of the esophageal lining
Your doctor may perform the following tests to diagnose radiation-induced
- Barium swallow test
The tell-tale sign of this form of esophagitis is inflammation.
Treatment of Radiation-Induced Esophagitis
If eating or drinking difficulty is present, then a temporary
feeding tube to the stomach or an intravenous line may be inserted
until the injury heals.
Otherwise, treatment for radiation-induced esophagitis depends
on the type of injury:
This abnormal narrowing of the esophagus can be treated by manual
dilation or enlargement by:
A bougie (“boojie”) is rubber device used to
flatten the lining of the esophagus and to enlarge its opening.
- Pneumatic dilator
A balloon is placed and inflated to enlarge the narrowed
portion of the esophagus.
- Guided wire dilator
During an endoscopic procedure, a tapered device is threaded
through the esophagus by using a guided wire
- Perforation and fistula
Surgery may be required to treat these injuries