Q:

What causes thickening of the esophagus?

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Quick Answer

Possible causes of thickening of the esophagus include postirradiation scarring, reflux and monilial esophagitis, esophageal varices and esophageal carcinoma, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. A CT scan is sometimes used to detect thickened esophageal walls.

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Full Answer

Wake Gastroenterology explains that there are many causes for the thickening, or inflammation, of the walls in the esophagus. Many of the cases of esophageal thickening are benign strictures, and a common cause is acid reflux. Acid reflux can happen to anyone, but it is more commonly found in people over the age of 40, says Wake. When the gastroesophageal, or peptic, acid is repeatedly pushed into the esophagus, the walls of the organ become inflamed. The inflammation leads to scarring, which after healing, sits under newer layers of inflamed tissue. This cycle of inflammation, scarring and healing eventually causes the walls of the esophagus to become thicker, and the opening of the organ eventually becomes narrower. This type of constriction sometimes leads to a condition called dysphasia, in which a person has difficulty swallowing and develops a speech disorder due to lack of muscle control. Wake Gastroenterology says benign strictures that may also cause thickening of the esophageal walls include radiation injury, post-surgical strictures or ingesting a toxic substance.

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