What is a Schatzki’s ring?
Schatzki’s ring is a smooth, benign narrow ring located at the junction between the esophagus and the stomach. These rings are common, occurring in up to 15% of the population. The cause is not clearly understood; some may be born with it or it may be influenced by long term gastroesophageal reflux.
What are symptoms of a Schatzki's ring?
The majority of these rings do not cause symptoms and patients are unaware of their presence, however solid foods, especially meats and breads, can get caught at the level of the ring and the patient may experience chest pain or a sticking sensation in the chest with swallowing (referred to as “dysphagia”). If the food becomes stuck, some patients have to regurgitate or vomit the food before they can resume eating. Rarely, the food can become impacted (the food cannot pass nor can it be regurgitated). This can cause chest pain, a choking sensation and inability to swallow liquids or secretions. In this case, upper endoscopy is required to remove the impacted food.
How is a Schatzki’s ring diagnosed?
The diagnosis of a Schatzki’s ring can be made by barium x-ray of the esophagus or upper endoscopy (EGD). During an EGD, a flexible viewing tube is inserted through the mouth into the esophagus. It allows for direct visualization of the inner lining of the esophagus and the stomach.
What treatment is for Schatzki’s ring?
Management involves procedures that will stretch these rings which allowing easier passage of solid food. Stretching can be performed with endoscopes, tapered dilators inserted through the mouth, or dilator balloons placed through an endoscope. Repeated procedures are sometimes necessary. Acid reducing medications are thought to reduce recurrence of rings and are often prescribed.