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Esophageal Disease in Dogs

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Related Symptoms or Diseases

The magnitude of clinical signs depends on both the specific disease and the severity of that disease. The clinical signs may be subtle yet present for weeks or months, or may be extremely severe, and come about quickly. Because the history, physical exam findings and overall presentation of dogs with esophageal disease are variable, there are other illnesses or symptoms that might be considered initially when establishing a definitive diagnosis. It is most important to note that regurgitation (the effortless evacuation of fluid, mucus and undigested food from the esophagus) is one of the most common clinical signs associated with esophageal disease, and must be differentiated from vomiting. The differentiation is important, as it helps to distinguish esophageal disease from gastric (stomach) or intestinal disease.

The following is a list of esophageal diseases:

  • Megaesophagus

  • Intrathoracic, Masses or growths in the chest may put pressure on the esophagus, causing a blockage – either partial or full – causing signs consistent with esophageal disease.

  • Vascular ring anomaly is an entrapment of the esophagus within several abnormal structures, causing a partial megaesophagus.

  • Neuromuscular diseases (nerve and muscle), including myasthenia gravis, polymyositis, systemic lupus erythematosis, polyradiculoneuritis, botulism, tetanus and dysautonomia.

  • Central nervous disorders, including infectious, inflammatory, neoplastic and traumatic

  • Miscellaneous disorders, including endocrine diseases (hypothyroidism, hypoadrenocorticism), certain toxicities (lead, thallium, acetycholinesterase) and thymoma (a tumor arising from an organ in the chest).

  • Esophagitis is the inflammation of the esophagus.

  • Esophageal foreign body is an object present or remaining within the esophagus.

  • Esophageal stricture is an abnormal narrowing of the esophagus.

  • Esophageal diverticula are pouch-like dilatations of the esophageal wall.

  • Esophageal neoplasia is cancer of the esophagus.

  • Esophageal fistula is an abnormal communication between the esophagus and another structure.

  • Hiatal hernia is an abnormality of the diaphragm allowing part of the stomach to be displaced into the chest cavity

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