Esophageal Disease in Dogs
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Overview of Canine Esophageal Disease
The esophagus is the tubular, muscular organ that extends from the pharynx to the stomach and functions to transmit ingested material to the stomach. Esophageal disease is any disease that effects the esophagus.
Causes of Esophageal Disease in Dogs Megaesophagus is decreased or absent esophageal movement that often results in dilatation, or stretching beyond normal size. It may be congenital (existing from birth) or acquired later in life. Vascular ring anomaly is strangulation (compression) of the esophagus within several structures, causing a partial megaesophagus. Esophagitis is an inflammation of the esophagus. Esophageal foreign bodies are any objects 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 (bronchus). Hiatal hernia is an abnormality of the diaphragm allowing part of the stomach to be displaced into the chest cavity.
Although in most esophageal diseases there are no sex, breed or age predilections, some esophageal diseases are seen more commonly in younger animals, and some are seen more commonly in certain breeds (foreign bodies more commonly in small or toy breeds).
What to Watch For Salivation Anorexia (poor appetite) Excessive or persistent gulping Discomfort upon swallowing Coughing Regurgitation, which is the effortless evacuation of fluid, mucus and undigested food from the esophagus
Diagnosis of Esophageal Disease in Dogs
Determining the cause of the esophageal disease can help determine proper treatment. A thorough knowledge of history and clinical signs is very important and is most helpful in making the diagnosis. Diagnostic tests are necessary to confirm a diagnosis of esophageal disease. They include: Complete blood count (CBC) Biochemical profile Urinalysis Thoracic (chest) radiographs (x-rays) Esophagram (barium swallow) Fluoroscopy, which is an evaluation that assesses the esophagus in motion Esophagoscopy allows visual inspection of the esophagus Diagnostics specific to megaesophagus, such as acetylcholine receptor antibody titers, blood lead level, endocrine testing and antinuclear antibody titers
Treatment of Esophageal Disease in Dogs
Treatment for esophageal disease should be directed at the specific disease. Appropriate therapy is dependent upon the precise disease. In addition, symptomatic or supportive therapy may be indicated for esophageal disease, regardless of the disease itself. Medical management, including gastric (stomach) acid blockers, esophageal or gastric coating agents and prokinetic agents that promote movement. Dietary modification Surgical intervention for certain esophageal diseases Hospitalization and supportive care in severe cases of disease
Home Care and Prevention for Esophageal Disease in Dogs
Administer prescribed medication and practice directed feeding recommendations. Be aware of secondary aspiration pneumonia. This can occur if food particles are inhaled into the airways.
Most esophageal diseases are not preventable. For the few that are, preventing ingestion of caustic substances and foreign bodies is recommended.
In-depth information on Canine Esophageal Disease
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