Pediatric Esophageal Strictures

Pediatric Esophageal Strictures



An esophageal stricture is inflammation or narrowing in the esophagus that causes swallowing problems.

Expanded overview

When a child has esophageal strictures, it can be difficult to swallow food or liquid normally. Esophageal strictures are caused by inflammation or damage to the esophagus that can lead to scar tissue. This scar tissue may build up and make the esophagus narrower, therefore making it more difficult to swallow.


Esophageal strictures in children can be caused by:

  • Accidental swallowing of household cleaners, lye (potassium or sodium hydroxide), batteries or battery acid
  • Birth defect (born with a narrow esophagus)
  • Esophageal cancer 
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Injury during a procedure using an endoscope
  • Long-term use of a nasogastric tube (for feeding)
  • Long-term use of certain medicines, such as aspirin and Doxycycline (an acne medicine)


If your child has esophageal strictures, symptoms may include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Black, tar-like bowel movements (beyond the passage of meconium, which is an infant’s first feces)
  • Choking on foods often
  • Chronic cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling like something is stuck in the throat after eating
  • Frequent burping and hiccups
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food or liquids
  • Weight loss or failure to thrive (insufficient weight gain)
  • Vomiting blood

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