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Esophagus 

Esophagus
Chapter:
Esophagus
Author(s):

C. Daniel Johnson

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199862153.003.0001
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  1. Cases 1.1–1.21 Inflammatory and Ulcerative Diseases

  2. Cases 1.22–1.30 Strictures

  3. Cases 1.31–1.52 Masses and Filling Defects

    • Benign Tumors

    • Malignant Tumors

    • Nonneoplastic

  4. Cases 1.53–1.58 Diverticula

  5. Cases 1.59–1.72 Miscellaneous

Case 1.1

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. Thickened and somewhat nodular folds are seen in the distal esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Reflux esophagitis

  2. 2. Esophageal varices

Diagnosis

Mild reflux esophagitis

Discussion

Reflux esophagitis is a common indication for and finding at UGI. If fold thickening is the only finding on a triphasic esophagram, mild esophagitis commonly is found endoscopically. Folds are considered abnormal if they exceed 2 to 3 mm in diameter.

Development of reflux esophagitis depends on several factors, including the acidity of the refluxed contents, the efficacy of esophageal clearance, and the frequency of reflux. These factors are particularly important in patients with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and those with scleroderma, groups commonly affected with reflux esophagitis. Varices (cases 1.46 and 1.47) change shape with fluoroscopic observation and often have a serpentine and nodular configuration.

Case 1.2

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. Linear erosions (arrow) and punctate superficial erosions (arrowhead) are present within mildly nodular mucosal background. The esophagus is shortened, and a small hiatal hernia is present.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Reflux esophagitis

  2. 2. Herpes esophagitis

  3. 3. Candida esophagitis

Diagnosis

Moderate reflux esophagitis

Discussion

Moderate esophagitis usually is characterized by the presence of superficial erosions that may be either punctate or linear. Fold thickening and nodularity also often are findings on the mucosal-relief phase images. In patients with long-standing disease with esophageal intramural fibrosis, the esophagus shortens and pulls the stomach into the thorax. This type of “short esophagus” hiatal hernia is present in this case. Herpes esophagitis (cases 1.17 and 1.18) is usually associated with multiple discrete superficial ulcers that may be located anywhere in the esophagus. Candida esophagitis (cases 1.15 and 1.16) most often has multiple plaquelike filling defects throughout the esophagus.

Case 1.4

Esophagus

Findings

Case 1.3. Double-contrast esophagram. A large, flat ulcer is present in the distal esophagus (arrow) with associated diminished distensibility of the lower esophageal segment. There is also a long linear ulcer (arrowheads) with a surrounding halo of edema.

Case 1.4. Double-contrast esophagram. Mucosal nodularity, a deep ulcer, and luminal narrowing are present. Transverse folds due to chronic scarring and buckling of the mucosa also are present (arrows). Sharp spiculations are seen just superior to the deep ulcer; these are due to transverse folds seen in profile (arrowheads). Asymmetric scarring causes the distal deformity and narrowing.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Transverse folds and severe reflux esophagitis

  2. 2. Feline esophagus

  3. 3. Carcinoma of the esophagus

Diagnosis

Severe reflux esophagitis

Discussion

Transverse folds develop as a result of a prior linear ulceration with scar formation within the longitudinal muscle layers of the distal esophagus. They usually do not span the entire esophageal lumen.

Severe esophagitis usually is characterized by the presence of an ulcer crater. Typically, patients with severe esophagitis have superficial erosions and fold thickening in addition to the characteristic ulcer.

Transverse folds from esophagitis should be distinguished from the folds in feline esophagus (case 1.5) because transverse folds are fixed, fewer in number, coarser, and shorter. Changes of both active and chronic disease commonly coexist (as seen in these cases).

Case 1.5

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. A. Multiple thin, transverse folds are present in lower esophagus. B. Exposure taken a few seconds later is normal, without evidence of previously seen folds.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Feline esophagus

  2. 2. Transverse folds of chronic reflux esophagitis

Diagnosis

Feline esophagus

Discussion

Feline esophagus is recognized by the presence of multiple transverse folds present transiently as the esophagus begins to collapse. The folds are fine and delicate, numerous, and symmetric. They usually cross the entire esophageal lumen. They develop from contractions of the longitudinally oriented muscularis mucosae. Their transience distinguishes them from the fixed, larger folds occasionally found in reflux esophagitis (case 1.4). Transverse folds of esophagitis usually do not cross the esophageal lumen. They also should be distinguished from the broad transverse bands seen in nonpropulsive tertiary contractions (case 1.59).

The name is derived from the similar-appearing esophagraphic findings in cats. Usually these findings are associated with active changes of reflux esophagitis. Some investigators have suggested that they are more common in patients with esophagitis.

Case 1.7

Esophagus

Findings

Case 1.6. Double-contrast esophagram. Luminal irregularity and narrowing are present in the distal esophagus with associated asymmetric sacculations.

Case 1.7. Single-contrast esophagram. A short esophagus hiatal hernia has irregularity and outpouchings about the lower esophageal segment.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Active reflux esophagitis

  2. 2. Chronic reflux esophagitis

  3. 3. Esophageal carcinoma

Diagnosis

Chronic reflux esophagitis

Discussion

Chronic and active changes of reflux esophagitis often coexist. It may be impossible to exclude active ulceration or carcinoma in patients with marked deformity. Endoscopy should be recommended for patients with such problematic findings. Changes of chronic reflux esophagitis can result in scarring and considerable deformity of the esophagus.

Case 1.8

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. Multiple tiny outpouchings are seen within the mid esophagus around a localized stricture.

Differential Diagnosis

Intramural esophageal pseudodiverticulosis

Diagnosis

Intramural esophageal pseudodiverticulosis

Discussion

Intramural esophageal pseudodiverticulosis is seen as multiple tiny outpouchings that either diffusely or segmentally affect the esophagus. Because the tiny necks may not fill completely, there is an apparent lack of communication with the esophageal lumen. Pathologically, these outpouchings are dilated submucosal glands, most commonly due to chronic reflux esophagitis. Elderly patients are most frequently affected and complain of progressive dysphagia due to the often-associated esophageal strictures. Up to 90% have an associated smooth stricture in the mid or upper esophagus. Dilation of the stricture usually cures the symptoms. The radiographic appearance is analogous to Rokitansky-Aschoff sinuses in the gallbladder and is virtually pathognomonic of this condition. Candida organisms are frequently cultured from the esophagus in patients with this condition, but they are believed to be a secondary invader rather than a causative factor.

Case 1.9

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. A short stricture is present in the mid esophagus, with some luminal irregularity at the level of the stricture. A short esophagus-type hiatal hernia also is visible.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Barrett esophagus stricture

  2. 2. Reflux stricture

  3. 3. Medication-induced esophagitis or stricture

  4. 4. Caustic ingestion-induced stricture

Diagnosis

Barrett esophagus stricture

Discussion

A focal esophageal stricture above the gastroesophageal junction is suggestive of Barrett esophagus. Barrett esophagus is histologically described as metaplasia and replacement of the normal squamous epithelium with gastric-type adenomatous mucosa. Chronic reflux esophagitis is nearly always the underlying cause of the disease. Some authorities estimate that nearly 10% of patients with reflux esophagitis have some adenomatous transformation in the esophagus.

This case is a typical example of Barrett esophagus. The short-esophagus hiatal hernia indicates long-standing esophagitis. Usual reflux-induced strictures (case 1.20) are located immediately above the gastroesophageal junction. Because adenomatous tissue is acid-resistant, strictures in Barrett esophagus develop near the squamous-adenomatous transition zone. Barrett strictures commonly are seen in the upper and mid esophagus. Medication-induced esophagitis (case 1.13) usually occurs at areas of anatomical narrowing—thoracic inlet, near aortic arch, or left mainstem bronchus. Caustic strictures (case 1.25) are usually long and associated with a typical history of caustic ingestion.

Case 1.11

Esophagus

Findings

Case 1.10. Double-contrast esophagram. A featureless distal esophagus is present. Above the featureless zone are findings of active reflux esophagitis (mucosal granularity and superficial erosions [arrows]).

Case 1.11. Double-contrast esophagram. Mucosal reticularity is present in the esophagus. There is a short esophagus-type hiatal hernia. A surgically induced deformity mimics an ulcer crater. A benign-appearing stricture also is present.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Barrett esophagus with active reflux esophagitis

  2. 2. Reflux esophagitis

  3. 3. Candida esophagitis

Diagnosis

Barrett esophagus

Discussion

It is important to recognize Barrett esophagus because it can develop in 5% to 20% of patients with chronic reflux esophagitis and the adenomatous tissue is at increased risk for malignant transformation. Reports suggest that the risk for development of adenocarcinoma is less than 1% per year. Barrett esophagus is a major risk factor for development of esophageal cancer.

Reticular changes of Barrett esophagus are often adjacent to an esophageal stricture. The nodularity and crevices may be smaller and more delicate than in case 1.11. The plaquelike filling defects in patients with candidiasis (cases 1.15 and 1.16) usually involve the entire esophagus and are not associated with other changes of reflux esophagitis. Upper endoscopy is the most accurate method for detecting Barrett esophagus, but radiologists should be aware of key findings when they are present.

Case 1.12

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. Multiple nodular filling defects are throughout the esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Reflux esophagitis

  2. 2. Glycogen acanthosis

  3. 3. Candida esophagitis

Diagnosis

Glycogen acanthosis

Discussion

Glycogen acanthosis is an occasional incidental finding in older patients, caused by increased cytoplasmic glycogen within the squamous epithelial cells of the esophagus. Radiographically, nodular filling defects are seen, ranging in size from 1 to 15 mm. Rarely, nodules coalesce to form larger plaques. Often, the margins of these lesions are hazy and fade peripherally.

Reflux esophagitis is the main differential consideration. Candida esophagitis also may have a nodular mucosal appearance. However, patients with Candida esophagitis almost always present with odynophagia, unlike patients with glycogen acanthosis, who are almost always asymptomatic.

Case 1.13

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. An irregular, linearly oriented ulceration with a surrounding soft tissue mass (arrow) is present in the mid esophagus. There is also a region of reduced distensibility on the opposite wall.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Infectious esophagitis (cytomegalovirus, human immunodeficiency virus)

  2. 2. Early esophageal carcinoma

  3. 3. Medication-induced esophagitis

Diagnosis

Medication-induced esophagitis

Discussion

Localized inflammation due to medication lodged in the esophagus can lead to focal edema, ulceration, and stricture formation. Pills can lodge anywhere within the esophagus, but usually do so at the arch level or within the distal esophagus. Patients usually complain of odynophagia, dysphagia, and retrosternal pain.

Radiographic findings are usually single or multiple shallow ulcerations. Associated fold thickening also may be seen. Double-contrast examination of the esophagus is sensitive for detecting these small, subtle ulcers. Endoscopy is required to exclude other differential possibilities unless the patient’s history is typical.

Case 1.14

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. Segmental region of deep ulceration affects a noncircumferential portion of mid esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Infectious esophagitis

  2. 2. Crohn esophagitis

  3. 3. Acute caustic ingestion

  4. 4. Esophageal carcinoma

Diagnosis

Crohn esophagitis

Discussion

Crohn disease rarely affects the esophagus; when it does, disease is almost always present in the small bowel and colon. Most patients seek medical attention because of disease symptoms elsewhere in the alimentary tract or an esophageal stricture that is causing dysphagia.

The usual radiographic finding is aphthous ulcers (discrete ulcers surrounded by a mound of edema), which usually require double-contrast radiography for detection. Confluent ulcerations and deep ulcers (as seen in this case) can be found in more severe disease. Transmural disease may lead to esophageal perforation and fistula formation. Progressive scarring can lead to stricture formation.

The lack of surrounding mass makes cancer unlikely. Caustic ingestion nearly always involves a larger segment of the esophagus (and ingestion history). The ulceration is larger than that usually found with cytomegalovirus (case 1.19) or human immunodeficiency virus.

Case 1.16

Esophagus

Findings

Case 1.15. Double-contrast esophagram. Multiple plaquelike filling defects are seen throughout the esophagus.

Case 1.16. Double-contrast esophagram. Shaggy, irregular luminal contours due to extensive plaquelike filling defects are present throughout the esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Candidiasis

  2. 2. Reflux esophagitis

  3. 3. Glycogenic acanthosis

  4. 4. Herpes esophagitis

Diagnosis

Candidiasis

Discussion

There is a spectrum of radiographic findings associated with candidiasis. Patients may present early with findings only of dysmotility (atonicity and tertiary contractions). Discrete plaquelike lesions are the most common finding, ranging from a few to diffuse esophageal involvement. Nodularity, granularity, and fold thickening may occur as a result of mucosal inflammation and edema. More severe disease is manifested as a shaggy, irregular luminal surface. Rarely, large filling defects occur as a result of giant plaques and fungus balls.

Reflux esophagitis usually is confined to the lower esophagus and rarely is associated with well-defined plaques. Patients with glycogenic acanthosis are usually asymptomatic and older but could present with similar radiographic findings. Herpes esophagitis occasionally can present with multiple plaquelike filling defects, but discrete ulcerations are more common.

Case 1.18

Esophagus

Findings

Case 1.17. Double-contrast esophagram. Multiple discrete ulcerations (arrows) are present on a normal esophageal background. (Adapted from Levine MS, Laufer I. Esophagus. In: Levine MS, Rubesin SE, Laufer I, editors. Double contrast gastrointestinal radiology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia [PA]: WB Saunders Company; c2000. p. 90–125. Used with permission.)

Case 1.18. Double-contrast esophagram. Multiple discrete ulcerations are clustered within the mid esophagus. (Courtesy of Marc S. Levine, MD, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Used with permission.)

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Herpes esophagitis

  2. 2. Candidiasis

  3. 3. Reflux esophagitis

  4. 4. Cytomegalovirus or varicella esophagitis

Diagnosis

Herpes esophagitis

Discussion

Radiographically, discrete ulcerations on an otherwise normal esophageal mucosal background are characteristic findings in herpes esophagitis. Multiple plaquelike filling defects, with or without ulcerations, also can be seen.

Differential considerations include candidiasis, which usually presents with plaquelike filling defects (cases 1.15 and 1.16). Other members of the herpesvirus group, including cytomegalovirus and varicella zoster, can present with identical radiographic findings. Cytomegalovirus infection often presents with a large, solitary, discrete ulcer (case 1.19). Ulcers from reflux esophagitis (cases 1.3 and 1.4) are usually confined to the distal esophagus and associated with hiatal hernia, reflux, and lower esophageal stricture.

Case 1.19

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. A large, flat ulceration (arrow) is present in the distal esophagus. (Courtesy of Kyunghee C. Cho, MD, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, New York. Used with permission.)

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Cytomegalovirus esophagitis

  2. 2. Human immunodeficiency virus esophagitis

  3. 3. Herpes esophagitis

  4. 4. Crohn esophagitis

Diagnosis

Cytomegalovirus esophagitis

Discussion

Cytomegalovirus infection is a disorder arising from the herpesvirus family. Most patients with this opportunistic infection have AIDS. The small bowel and colon are most frequently affected. Diagnosis is usually made histologically by examining endoscopic brushings and biopsy specimens. Intranuclear inclusions are seen within endothelial cells or fibroblasts.

Radiographically, cytomegalovirus esophagitis may be indistinguishable from herpes esophagitis (cases 1.17 and 1.18) or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection with multiple discrete ulcerations. Advanced disease may be associated with extensive ulceration. Giant and flat ulcers suggest cytomegalovirus or HIV infection rather than herpes esophagitis. Cytomegalovirus esophagitis should be considered in any patient with AIDS and esophageal ulcerations.

Case 1.20

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. A moderate-sized hiatal hernia is present with esophageal shortening and narrowing beginning at the gastroesophageal junction. The margins of the stricture taper gradually.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Chronic reflux-induced stricture

  2. 2. Caustic ingestion-induced stricture

Diagnosis

Chronic reflux esophagitis: focal stricture

Discussion

Stricture formation is the most frequent radiographic manifestation of chronic reflux esophagitis. The classic stricture begins immediately above the gastroesophageal junction and extends proximally a variable distance. Usually the margins are smooth and taper gradually. A mild stricture may present as a subtle region of incomplete esophageal distention. Severe strictures that narrow the lumen to less than 1 cm are nearly always symptomatic—dysphagia is the most frequent complaint. Treatment of symptomatic strictures is usually by either balloon or bougie dilation. An antireflux operation is reserved for patients who do not respond to more conservative therapy. In many cases, fibrosis causes esophageal shortening with the development of a short esophagus-type hiatal hernia. Caustic strictures (case 1.25) are usually longer, often involving a longer length of the esophagus.

Case 1.21

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. A long distal esophageal stricture, with an associated hiatal hernia, is present.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Caustic ingestion-induced stricture

  2. 2. Prolonged nasogastric tube stricture

  3. 3. Radiation-induced stricture

  4. 4. Blistering skin disorders

  5. 5. Chronic reflux-induced stricture

Diagnosis

Chronic reflux esophagitis: long stricture

Discussion

This benign-appearing stricture is due to chronic reflux esophagitis. The smooth, tapered margins usually indicate a benign cause. Long strictures such as this are unusual for peptic esophagitis-induced strictures. Other considerations may have to be excluded after review of the patient’s history.

Table 1.1

Peptic and Inflammatory Esophagitis

CASE

Active reflux esophagitis

  • Mild reflux esophagitis

  • Moderate reflux esophagitis

  • Severe reflux esophagitis

  • Feline esophagitis

  • Thickened folds only

  • Thickened folds and tiny linear ulcerations

  • Thickened folds and moderate to large ulcer

  • Delicate, transverse folds, transient

Chronic reflux esophagitis (with or without active disease)

Smooth, tapering stricture immediately above gastroesophageal junction. Scarring with deformity, transverse folds, intramural pseudodiverticulosis

1.6–1.8, 1.20, 1.21

Barrett esophagus

Benign stricture at an abnormally high location, transition zone with active esophagitis above normal distal segment, or reticulated mucosal pattern

1.9–1.11

Medication-induced esophagitis

Single or multiple shallow ulcers, usually at level of arch or distal esophagus

1.13

Crohn esophagitis

Aphthous ulcers. Confluent ulcers in more severe disease

1.14

Infectious Esophagitis

Candidiasis

  • Multiple plaquelike filling defects

  • Advanced disease has shaggy appearance

1.15 and 1.16

Herpes esophagitis

Multiple discrete ulcers, normal mucosa between lesions

1.17 and 1.18

Cytomegalovirus and human immunodeficiency virus esophagitis

Large, flat, solitary ulcer. Radiographically indistinguishable

1.19

Miscellaneous

Glycogen acanthosis

Multiple filling defects in elderly, asymptomatic patient

1.12

Case 1.22

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. Dilatation of the esophagus with a beaklike deformity near the gastroesophageal junction. Aperistalsis of the smooth muscle portion (distal two-thirds) was observed.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Achalasia

  2. 2. Scleroderma

  3. 3. Reflux-induced stricture

  4. 4. Chagas disease

  5. 5. Carcinoma of gastroesophageal junction (pseudoachalasia)

Diagnosis

Achalasia

Discussion

Achalasia is a motor disorder of the esophagus characterized by aperistalsis of the distal two-thirds (smooth muscle portion) of the esophagus and failure of the lower esophageal sphincter to relax. Patients usually complain of dysphagia, recumbent regurgitation, and episodes of aspiration pneumonia.

Radiographically, the esophagus is often dilated, and a standing column of contrast material is seen (the height of the column is proportional to the severity of lower esophageal obstruction). Periodic relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter with continued drinking is a critical observation for distinguishing primary achalasia from pseudoachalasia—carcinoma of the gastroesophageal junction (a fixed, nonrelaxing obstruction) (case 1.24). Manometry is the standard for diagnosing achalasia.

Transesophageal balloon dilation and surgical incision of the lower esophageal muscle fibers (Heller myotomy) are the primary treatment options.

Patients with scleroderma have a patulous gastroesophageal junction, esophagitis, and a lower esophageal stricture. In reflux esophagitis, peristalsis remains normal. Chagas disease may be indistinguishable from achalasia.

Case 1.23

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast UGI. The esophagus is dilated to the gastroesophageal junction. The lower esophageal segment has smooth, tapered narrowing and intermittent, transient opening. In addition, multiple nonpropulsive contractions are present in the lower esophageal segment. Normal stripping wave is not observed.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Achalasia

  2. 2. Carcinoma gastroesophageal junction (pseudoachalasia)

  3. 3. Reflux-induced stricture

  4. 4. Scleroderma

  5. 5. Chagas disease

Diagnosis

Vigorous achalasia

Discussion

Vigorous achalasia is considered a less severe or early form of achalasia with motor abnormalities similar to those of achalasia seen fluoroscopically, in addition to repetitive, simultaneous, nonpropulsive contractions. Patients may have chest pain and typical dysphagia. Esophageal dilatation may be only minimal.

Complications from achalasia include carcinoma and Candida esophagitis. Carcinomas are squamous cell type, developing after 20 years of achalasia. The upper and mid esophagus are common locations for these cancers. Cancer surveillance should begin after a disease duration of 10 to 15 years. Candidiasis (cases 1.15 and 1.16) develops from chronic stasis.

Endoscopic treatment with botulinum toxin does not provide long-term benefit. The value of endoscopic myotomy, esophageal stents, and robotic-assisted myotomy is not currently established.

Case 1.24

Esophagus

Findings

  1. A. Single-contrast esophagram. Fixed, smooth narrowing is present in distal esophagus. Proximal esophagus is dilated. At fluoroscopy, narrowing remained unchanged, even after esophagus was half filled with contrast material.

  2. B. Abdominal CT with oral contrast. A soft tissue mass (arrows) causing gastric wall thickening is present at the level of the gastroesophageal junction. The mass extends into the distal esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Carcinoma of gastroesophageal junction (pseudoachalasia)

  2. 2. Achalasia

Diagnosis

Carcinoma of the gastroesophageal junction (pseudoachalasia)

Discussion

Tumors such as this have predominantly submucosal growth and often arise from a gastric primary lesion. The radiographic findings can mimic those of achalasia. The terms pseudoachalasia and secondary achalasia have been used for such cases. On careful fluoroscopic observation of the cancerous esophagogastric junction during swallowing, a fixed, rigid stricture is seen that never distends during esophageal emptying. The esophagogastric junction in achalasia (case 1.22) opens transiently and distends when the hydrostatic barium column in the esophagus exceeds lower esophageal sphincter muscle tone. Peristalsis of the distal esophagus is absent in both conditions. The exact mechanism for this motor abnormality in patients with pseudoachalasia is uncertain.

CT may be helpful when findings are equivocal, because a soft tissue mass may be visible in patients with tumor.

Case 1.25

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. A long, narrow stricture involves the mid and distal esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Caustic stricture

  2. 2. Stricture due to bullous skin disease

  3. 3. Radiation stricture

  4. 4. Prolonged nasogastric tube stricture

  5. 5. Chronic reflux stricture

Diagnosis

Caustic (lye-induced) stricture

Discussion

Caustic damage to the esophagus can occur from several agents, including alkali (lye), acid, phenols, ammonium chloride, and silver nitrate. The extent of damage depends on the concentration of the agent, the amount ingested, and the duration of mucosal contact. Radiographic examinations are helpful for documenting the severity and extent of stricture formation.

Radiographic findings of acute caustic esophagitis include dysmotility, irregular margins, edema, ulcerations, plaques of sloughing mucosa, and occasionally an intramural collection of contrast material. Esophageal strictures usually develop 1 to 3 months after injury. The strictures may be focal and confined to the upper esophagus, or the esophagus may be diffusely involved with asymmetric regions of narrowing and sacculations. Patients are also at increased risk (1%-4%) of esophageal cancer after 20 years.

Case 1.26

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. Frontal (A) and lateral (B) images show persistent multifocal strictures in the cervical and upper thoracic esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Caustic ingestion strictures

  2. 2. Strictures due to medication-induced esophagitis

  3. 3. Strictures due to bullous disease

Diagnosis

Cicatricial pemphigoid strictures (benign mucous membrane pemphigoid)

Discussion

This patient had a known history of cicatricial pemphigoid with characteristic blistering lesions of the oral mucosa and face. Bullous diseases of the esophagus include cicatricial pemphigoid and epidermolysis bullosa dystrophica. Cicatricial pemphigoid is a rare (1:20,000), chronic, autoimmune blistering disorder involving the mucous membranes of the mouth, eyes, nose, esophagus, larynx, urethra, and anus. Peak incidence is between 60 and 80 years of age. Transient skin lesions (small blisters and erosions) occur in more than 20% of patients and usually are located on the head and neck. Biopsy often is required for diagnosis. Patients generally are treated with corticosteroids, the results of which are variable. Chronic changes of the disease in the esophagus often result in strictures. Scarring due to other causes of esophagitis also could present as multifocal strictures. Caustic (lye) ingestion (case 1.25) usually results in a long esophageal stricture, but multifocal strictures also could occur with variable areas of mucosal damage and healing.

Case 1.27

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. A long, smooth stricture is present in the mid esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Radiation stricture

  2. 2. Caustic stricture

  3. 3. Nasogastric tube peptic stricture

  4. 4. Zollinger-Ellison reflux stricture

Diagnosis

Radiation stricture

Discussion

This patient had radiation therapy 1 year previously for lung cancer. Severe esophagitis and strictures can occur with high-dose (generally >50 Gy) radiation therapy to the chest. Acute radiation esophagitis usually occurs 1 to 4 weeks after the start of radiation therapy, whereas strictures often develop 4 to 8 months after its completion. Long-segment esophageal strictures also can be caused by caustic ingestion (case 1.25), peptic stricture due to acid reflux with long-term nasogastric tube placement, or reflux stricture in Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. However, these strictures almost always extend to the gastroesophageal junction. A radiation stricture should be a primary diagnostic consideration for a long, smooth esophageal stricture that spares the distal esophagus.

Case 1.29

Esophagus

Findings

Case 1.28. Double-contrast esophagram. Esophagus is diffusely narrowed.

Case 1.29. Single-contrast esophagram. Multiple ringlike narrowings within the upper thoracic esophagus are associated with luminal narrowing.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Lye stricture

  2. 2. Radiation-induced stricture

  3. 3. Prolonged use of nasogastric tube

  4. 4. Reflux esophagitis

  5. 5. Eosinophilic esophagitis

  6. 6. Blistering skin disorder

Diagnosis

Eosinophilic esophagitis

Discussion

Eosinophilic esophagitis is a chronic immune-mediated disorder characterized by dysphagia and eosinophilia within the esophageal mucosa at biopsy. Some patients have esophageal dysmotility that contributes considerably to their dysphagia. Some patients have a history of a food impaction, allergies, or peripheral eosinophilia; however, none of these factors are required for diagnosis. Topical corticosteroid therapy has been reported to be successful for these symptoms.

Radiographically, the spectrum of findings includes a normal esophagus (with symptoms attributed to dysmotility). A diffusely small-caliber esophagus (case 1.28), a short stricture, strictures with ringlike indentations (case 1.29), and a granular mucosa are findings at esophagography.

A clinical history is helpful for narrowing the differential list. Biopsy confirmation is usually necessary for definitive diagnosis.

Case 1.30

Esophagus

Findings

  1. A. Single-contrast esophagram. Extrinsic compression and narrowing involve the mid esophagus.

  2. B. Contrast-enhanced CT. Bulky mediastinal and hilar lymphadenopathy is present.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Mediastinal adenopathy

  2. 2. Esophageal carcinoma

Diagnosis

Extrinsic esophageal compression by lymphomatous mediastinal adenopathy

Discussion

Lymphomatous involvement of the esophagus is unusual. Usually patients have known generalized lymphoma before esophageal disease is discovered. This disease can affect the esophagus by mass effect or by direct spread from enlarged, contiguous lymph nodes. Lymphomatous involvement of the stomach can spread directly to the esophagus, or a lesion can develop in the esophagus simultaneously with disease elsewhere in the body. Benign inflammatory causes of mediastinal adenopathy also can result in extrinsic narrowing of the esophagus.

Table 1.2

Esophageal Strictures

CASE

Peptic stricture

Immediately above gastroesophageal junction, often above esophageal hiatal hernia. Smooth, tapered margins

1.20 and 1.21

Barrett esophagus stricture

Usually seen in mid esophagus near squamous-adenomatous transition zone

1.9

Carcinoma

Irregular luminal contour with abrupt, shouldered margins

1.37

Achalasia

2-cm smooth stricture in region of gastroesophageal junction. Transiently relaxes with column of barium in esophagus while patient is standing

1.22 and 1.23

Pseudoachalasia

Carcinoma of the gastroesophageal junction. Fixed obstruction, never relaxes with full column of esophageal barium

1.24

Caustic stricture

Usually long and very narrow. Childhood injury, prolonged nasogastric tube common

1.25

Blistering skin disorders

Strictures, webs, cicatricial deformity. Epidermolysis bullosa dystrophica or benign mucous membrane pemphigoid

1.26

Radiation stricture

Long, narrow, smooth stricture. History of radiation therapy

1.27

Eosinophilic esophagitis

Diffusely narrowed lumen, benign stricture, stricture with multiple rings, dysmotility

1.28 and 1.29

Lymphoma

Extrinsic compression by mediastinal adenopathy

1.30

Case 1.31

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. Normal anatomic structures on the lateral (A) and frontal (B) views.

  1. 1. Soft palate

  2. 2. Tongue base

  3. 3. Epiglottis

  4. 4. Posterior wall pharynx

  5. 5. Vallecula

  6. 6. Pyriform sinuses

  7. 7. Esophagus

  8. 8. Trachea

Diagnosis

Normal oropharynx

Discussion

Performing swallowing studies requires knowledge of normal oropharyngeal anatomy. During a normal swallow, the soft palate elevates and seals the pharynx from the nasal cavity, preventing nasopharyngeal regurgitation. The pharynx elevates and contracts, propelling food toward the esophagus as the epiglottis tilts posteriorly to seal the laryngeal vestibule. Contrast material entering the laryngeal vestibule without crossing the vocal cords is termed penetration. Contrast material that enters the trachea (beyond the vocal cords) is termed aspiration. Different food consistencies (thin liquid, thick liquid, nectar, honey, paste, solid) can be evaluated in patients with penetration or aspiration, because thicker foods may be swallowed more safely. Various maneuvers can also be attempted to assess for safe passage of liquids and solids. These include tucking the chin, turning the head, and supraglottic swallow.

Case 1.32

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. A. Abnormal soft tissue mass is present in region of tongue base (1). The epiglottis (2) is tilted posteriorly. B. Incomplete filling of the right vallecula.

Differential Diagnosis

Pharyngeal tumor arising from base of tongue

Diagnosis

Squamous cell carcinoma of base of tongue

Discussion

Pharyngeal tumors can be difficult to detect without magnified spot radiographs. This relatively large tumor was difficult to appreciate at fluoroscopy, but it is seen well on the lateral and anteroposterior radiographs. Patients with suspicious lesions should be referred for laryngoscopy and biopsy, if indicated.

Case 1.33

Esophagus

Findings

  1. A. Double-contrast esophagram. There is a smooth impression on the esophageal contour by a well-circumscribed mass. The lateral margins of the mass (arrows) extend to the right of the spine.

  2. B. Contrast-enhanced CT of the chest. A well-circumscribed, exophytic, enhancing tumor (arrow) is seen along the right side of the distal esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Leiomyoma

  2. 2. Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST)

  3. 3. Fibroma, neuroma, neurofibroma, lipoma, hemangioma

  4. 4. Duplication cyst

  5. 5. Lymphoma

Diagnosis

Leiomyoma

Discussion

The location of the mass in relationship to the esophagus, its smooth surface, and the obtuse angle between the mass and the esophageal lumen suggest a submucosal mass. Leiomyomas are the most frequently occurring submucosal neoplasm of the esophagus, accounting for more than half of all benign esophageal tumors. They are more common in the mid esophagus and distal esophagus—segments where smooth muscle is most abundant. Approximately 3% to 4% of tumors are multiple.

Differential considerations include GISTs and other types of intramural tumors such as fibromas, neuromas, neurofibromas, lipomas, and hemangiomas. GISTs are mesenchymal neoplasms that do not arise from smooth muscle cells, but they can have an identical radiologic appearance. Enteric duplication cysts or a lymphomatous mass could also have a similar appearance.

A focal and enhancing mass makes a neoplasm most likely at CT. Duplication cysts often show water attenuation and do not enhance with intravenous contrast material.

Case 1.34

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. A lobulated filling defect is present in the distal esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Adenoma

  2. 2. Papilloma

  3. 3. Inflammatory esophagogastric polyp

Diagnosis

Adenoma

Discussion

Adenomas of the esophagus are rare lesions arising from adenomatous tissue in the distal esophagus, usually within Barrett esophagus. Malignant degeneration has been reported in these lesions; therefore, endoscopic removal is recommended. Large polyps are more likely to be malignant than small polyps.

Esophageal papillomas (fibrovascular excrescences that are covered with squamous epithelium) can have a similar radiographic appearance and are probably more common than previously believed. These polyps are usually removed endoscopically, but no malignant transformation has been reported in humans. Inflammatory esophagogastric polyps (case 1.35) also could be confused with adenomas; however, these polypoid protuberances are enlarged gastric folds that protrude into the lower esophagus.

Case 1.35

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. An enlarged polypoid fold extends from the stomach into the esophageal lumen.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Inflammatory esophagogastric polyp

  2. 2. Adenoma

  3. 3. Papilloma

Diagnosis

Inflammatory esophagogastric polyp

Discussion

The inflammatory esophagogastric polyp is an enlarged gastric fold that projects into the lower esophagus. Inflammation is due to reflux esophagitis in affected patients. The polyp has no malignant potential. Usual radiographic features are a clubbed, bulbous fold that arises from the fundus of the stomach and projects into the lower esophagus. Occasionally, it may be difficult to differentiate an inflammatory esophagogastric polyp from a papilloma or an adenoma. In these cases, endoscopy is recommended to obtain a definitive diagnosis.

Case 1.36

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. A and B. A large, smooth, intraluminal mass arising from a thin stalk is present in the cervical esophagus. The esophagus is dilated around the intraluminal mass.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Fibrovascular polyp

  2. 2. Adenomatous polyp

  3. 3. Spindle cell carcinoma (carcinosarcoma)

  4. 4. Intraluminal gastrointestinal stromal tumor

Diagnosis

Fibrovascular polyp

Discussion

Fibrovascular polyps are benign, pedunculated, intraluminal lesions composed of various mesenchymal elements. They are covered by normal squamous esophageal mucosa and usually occur in the cervical esophagus. In the past, fibrovascular polyps were named according to the predominant histologic component (fibroepithelial polyps, pedunculated lipomas, fibrous lipomas, fibromyxomas, fibrolipomas). Fibrovascular polyps are typically longer than 7 cm and can exceed 20 cm in length. Occasionally, they present dramatically with regurgitation of the polyp into the pharynx. In these cases, they can result in respiratory compromise or even death. Fibrovascular polyps are not at risk for malignant transformation. Treatment of these lesions is surgical or endoscopic excision. Fibrovascular polyps often have a considerable lipomatous component and have fatty density on CT.

Adenomatous polyps (case 1.34) rarely attain this size. Spindle cell carcinomas (case 1.45) can arise from a stalk, but the site of attachment is usually in the mid or distal esophagus. Gastrointestinal stromal tumor is also a diagnostic consideration, but it rarely has this large an endoluminal component and does not arise from a stalk.

Case 1.37

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. A large, centrally ulcerated mass with an irregular luminal contour and an abrupt inferior edge is present in the mid esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Primary esophageal carcinoma

  2. 2. Metastases

  3. 3. Lymphoma

Diagnosis

Ulcerative esophageal carcinoma (squamous cell)

Discussion

Features of a malignant mass include an irregular contour of the barium-filled lumen, abrupt (shouldered) edges, and an ulcer that does not project beyond the expected location of the normal esophageal mucosa. This case illustrates these features of a malignancy. Esophageal carcinoma is a highly lethal disease that usually presents with chest pain or progressive dysphagia. Symptomatic tumors are often large and of advanced stage. Small tumors are usually discovered incidentally. Important risk factors in the development of esophageal cancer include tobacco and alcohol consumption, sex (threefold to fourfold increase in males), race (twice as common in nonwhites), lye ingestion, achalasia, prior head and neck cancer, nontropical sprue, tylosis, Plummer-Vinson syndrome, and exposure to tannins and nitrosamines. Tobacco and alcohol consumption are the most important risk factors in the United States.

Squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas are the most common histologic types of esophageal cancers. Squamous cell tumors do not usually cross the esophagogastric junction. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common esophageal cancer worldwide (90%-95%), but it accounts for less than half of esophageal cancers in the United States.

Case 1.38

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. A large polypoid filling defect with irregular borders and abruptly shouldering edges is present within the distal esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Esophageal carcinoma

  2. 2. Spindle cell carcinoma (carcinosarcoma)

  3. 3. Lymphoma

Diagnosis

Polypoid esophageal adenocarcinoma

Discussion

An esophageal adenocarcinoma, spindle cell carcinoma (carcinosarcoma) (case 1.45), or lymphoma (case 1.44) should be suspected when a bulky polypoid tumor is identified. Squamous cell carcinomas usually present as an annular constricting mass. Adenocarcinomas nearly always arise within Barrett esophagus and are therefore usually located in the distal esophagus. Esophageal adenocarcinomas are increasing in frequency because of an increase in the number of patients with Barrett esophagus, and they now account for 50% to 80% of all esophageal cancers in the United States.

Case 1.39

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. A large mass is present in the distal esophagus with associated thickened and nodular folds. An abrupt edge forms the superior margin of the tumor.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Primary esophageal carcinoma

  2. 2. Varices

Diagnosis

Varicoid esophageal adenocarcinoma

Discussion

Most esophageal tumors do not have a varicoid appearance. This type of adenocarcinoma has a substantial proportion of tumor extending within the submucosa, causing the distorted fold appearance. Tumors are fixed and rigid, unchanging with swallowing. Usually a peristaltic wave will not pass through such a diseased esophageal segment. Varices change shape, especially with passage of a peristaltic stripping wave (cases 1.46 and 1.47).

Case 1.40

Esophagus

Findings

Contrast-enhanced CT. Marked distal esophageal wall thickening and calcification are present. A large, finely calcified hepatic mass is also visible.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Primary esophageal carcinoma

  2. 2. Lymphoma

  3. 3. Peptic esophagitis

  4. 4. Infectious esophagitis

Diagnosis

Esophageal carcinoma with hepatic metastases

Discussion

The normal esophageal wall is less than 3 mm thick. Wall thickening by itself is a nonspecific finding; both benign and malignant processes can have this appearance. Often, endoscopy is necessary to determine the cause of the wall thickening. Detection of paraesophageal invasion can be difficult, especially if the patient has a paucity of mediastinal fat or the fat planes are obliterated by operative or radiation therapy. Intravenously administered contrast material may help display tissue boundaries better in some patients with questionable findings. The presence of enlarged nodes (1.0–1.5 cm) suggests metastases; however, the absence of adenopathy does not exclude disseminated disease. Metastases to normal-sized lymph nodes is common and not reliably detected on CT. In addition, enlarged nodes can be due to benign inflammatory disease. Acute inflammatory changes within the esophagus can sometimes be distinguished from tumor infiltration by visualization of water attenuation within the thickened wall.

Case 1.42

Esophagus

Findings

Case 1.41. Double-contrast barium esophagram. Distal esophagus has irregular luminal narrowing and nodularity.

Case 1.42. Contrast-enhanced CT. A circumferential soft tissue mass encases the esophagogastric junction.

Differential Diagnosis

Primary esophageal carcinoma

Diagnosis

Infiltrative adenocarcinoma of the gastroesophageal junction

Discussion

Esophageal adenocarcinomas nearly all arise from Barrett esophagus or from a fundal carcinoma extending into the esophagus. The spread of adenocarcinoma resembles that of squamous cell carcinoma, except there is a higher likelihood of involvement of the gastric cardia or fundus. Radiographic features that suggest an adenocarcinoma rather than a squamous carcinoma include distal location, gastric invasion, polypoid morphologic appearance, and evidence for chronic reflux esophagitis. CT can be used to identify mediastinal invasion and subdiaphragmatic extent of tumor. If extensive metastases are identified, the patient often receives chemotherapy and radiation therapy rather than surgery. CT often understages tumors at the gastroesophageal junction.

Case 1.43

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. There is a polypoid, lobulated filling defect in the distal esophagus, and an associated extrinsic mass displaces the esophagus posteriorly.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Esophageal carcinoma

  2. 2. Metastases

Diagnosis

Lung cancer with metastatic invasion into the esophagus

Discussion

CT (not shown) showed extensive mediastinal lymphadenopathy causing the changes on the esophagram. Metastases to the esophagus usually arise from cancers of the stomach, lung, breast, or ovary. Most of these tumors metastasize to mediastinal lymph nodes, and with growth they can displace or directly invade the esophagus. In some patients, the abnormality may resemble a primary esophageal cancer or present as a long, narrow stricture. Displacement of the lumen by a nodal mass is common. The mid esophagus is most commonly affected because mediastinal lymph nodes are most often affected. Hematogenous metastases to the esophagus are unusual.

Case 1.44

Esophagus

Findings

Esophagram. A large lobulated and ulcerated mass constricts the distal esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Esophageal carcinoma

  2. 2. Lymphoma

  3. 3. Varices

Diagnosis

Esophageal lymphoma

Discussion

The appearance of lymphoma can closely resemble that of primary carcinoma. The most common intrinsic manifestation of lymphoma is a polypoid, ulcerative, or infiltrative mass—usually indistinguishable from primary esophageal cancer. Less frequently, submucosal infiltration of lymphoma results in varicoid folds, discrete small submucosal masses, or diffuse nodular changes. Varices are usually more serpentine, and they change shape during fluoroscopic observation (especially from a peristaltic stripping wave).

Case 1.45

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. A large, bulky filling defect is seen within the distal esophagus. A pedicle (arrow) is seen attaching the tumor to the left side of the esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Pedunculated gastrointestinal stromal tumor

  2. 2. Fibrovascular polyp

  3. 3. Spindle cell carcinoma

  4. 4. Adenocarcinoma

Diagnosis

Spindle cell carcinoma (carcinosarcoma)

Discussion

Spindle cell carcinomas are rare malignancies that contain histologic elements of both carcinoma and sarcoma. In the past, these tumors have been called carcinosarcomas. These tumors usually appear as bulky, polypoid, intraluminal tumors in the mid or distal esophagus. The mass may expand the esophageal lumen, but obstruction is rare.

Case 1.47

Esophagus

Findings

Case 1.46. Double-contrast esophagram. Multiple serpentine filling defects are seen in the distal esophagus. These defects change in size and shape.

Case 1.47. Contrast-enhanced CT. Several esophageal varices are present within the distal periesophageal tissues.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Esophageal varices

  2. 2. Varicoid esophageal carcinoma

Diagnosis

“Uphill” esophageal varices

Discussion

Esophageal varices are dilated submucosal veins that develop as a result of portal venous hypertension. Hepatic cirrhosis is the most frequent cause of portal venous hypertension. Increased portal venous pressure reverses normal venous blood flow such that flow occurs “uphill” from the portal vein, to the left gastric (coronary) vein, to the periesophageal venous plexus, and, finally, to the azygous and hemiazygous collaterals that empty into the superior vena cava. Varices almost never cause dysphagia, but they can bleed and cause life-threatening hemorrhage.

The radiographic diagnosis of esophageal varices is most sensitive when the partially collapsed esophagus is examined. Varices can be obliterated by the filled, distended esophagus as well as the collapsed esophagus immediately after a stripping peristaltic wave. Varices appear as linear, often serpentine, filling defects with a scalloped esophageal contour. Uphill varices are more prominent in the distal esophagus. The changing nature of varices with esophageal distention, peristalsis, and respiratory effort is helpful in differentiating varices from varicoid carcinoma (case 1.39) that appears fixed, is noncompliant, and often has shouldered margins.

Case 1.48

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. Tubular thickened folds (arrows) are present in the upper thoracic esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Esophageal varices

  2. 2. Varicoid esophageal carcinoma

Diagnosis

“Downhill” esophageal varices

Discussion

“Downhill” varices develop as a result of obstruction of the superior vena cava, most commonly due to bronchogenic carcinoma, lymphoma, or fibrosing mediastinitis. Collaterals of the supreme intercostal vein, bronchial veins, and inferior thyroidal veins and other periesophageal collaterals enlarge and may be visible on an esophagram in the upper one-third of the esophagus. Blood flows “down” (caudally) the azygous-hemiazygous system and reenters the systemic circulation by way of the left gastric and portal veins. Unlike uphill varices, which often cause gastrointestinal bleeding, downhill varices usually are asymptomatic. In fact, in clinical practice, these varices are rare. In the absence of the superior vena cava syndrome, other diagnostic considerations should be entertained, such as varicoid carcinoma (case 1.39).

Case 1.50

Esophagus

Findings

Case 1.49. Chest radiograph. There is a well-circumscribed mass behind the heart.

Case 1.50. Contrast-enhanced CT. A paraesophageal mass with the attenuation of water is present in the lower mediastinum.

Differential Diagnosis

Bronchopulmonary foregut malformation

Diagnosis

Esophageal (enteric) duplication cyst

Discussion

Esophageal duplication cysts are a type of foregut cyst, as are bronchogenic cysts and neurenteric cysts. Pathologically, esophageal duplication cysts are lined with squamous epithelium and have a smooth muscle wall. Bronchogenic cysts have respiratory epithelium, and neurenteric cysts have associated vertebral body anomalies. Symptoms from these cysts can be caused by compression on the adjacent esophagus or tracheobronchial tree or by infection of the cyst. If acid is secreted by the lining mucosa, peptic ulceration, perforation, and bleeding occur rarely.

Esophageal duplication cysts can be located anywhere in the posterior mediastinum. Contrast esophagraphy usually shows an extramucosal (smooth, well-demarcated) mass, which is often impossible to differentiate from a leiomyoma (case 1.33), gastrointestinal stromal tumor, or other mass arising from the esophageal wall. CT allows differentiation of an enteric cyst (attenuation of water) from a solid-enhancing mass.

Case 1.51

Esophagus

Findings

Lateral radiograph of the neck. There is a bone fragment (arrow) in the region of the esophagus at the level of the C4 interspace.

Differential Diagnosis

Foreign body

Diagnosis

Esophageal foreign body

Discussion

This patient complained of food sticking and pain while eating chicken. A chicken bone was removed endoscopically.

Bony foreign bodies such as chicken or fish bones often lodge in the upper esophagus, whereas meat impactions (case 1.52) most commonly occur at the gastroesophageal junction. Impacted bones often are best visualized on a lateral radiograph of the cervical region or at CT. Contrast material may obscure a small fragment.

Case 1.52

Esophagus

Findings

  1. A. Single-contrast esophagram. An intraluminal filling defect is present in the distal esophagus just above the gastroesophageal junction.

  2. B. Subsequent esophagram. The filling defect is no longer present, and a lower esophageal ring is seen.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Foreign body

  2. 2. Esophageal carcinoma

  3. 3. Esophageal adenoma

Diagnosis

Esophageal foreign body

Discussion

This patient had a typical history of swallowing a large piece of meat and immediately experiencing odynophagia. Glucagon (1 mg) was administered intravenously after image A was obtained, and the meat bolus passed into the stomach.

Impacted food typically lodges above the gastroesophageal junction. Several techniques can be used to remove the food. Intravenously administered glucagon decreases pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter and may facilitate passage of the food bolus into the stomach. Generally, if the bolus reaches the stomach, it will pass through the remainder of the alimentary tract without difficulty. Endoscopic retrieval is the traditional means of treatment. Baskets and balloon catheters also have been used successfully to extract these foreign bodies. Effervescent granules and meat tenderizer have been used successfully by some, but they are not used in our practice because of the possible risk of perforation with these methods. If an impaction has persisted for more than 24 hours, the risk of perforation increases because of possible transmural ischemia. Special care must be taken in these cases. It is important to examine the esophagus after the food bolus has passed or been removed in order to exclude an underlying lesion.

Table 1.3

Esophageal Filling Defects

CASE

Benign tumors

  • Leiomyoma

  • Adenoma

  • Inflammatory polyp

  • Fibrovascular polyp

  • Smooth surface. 90° angle with esophageal lumen. Most common submucosal tumor. Gastrointestinal stromal tumor has identical appearance

  • Resembles a polyp. Usually <1.5 cm in diameter

  • Always contiguous with gastric fold. Due to esophagitis

  • Large polyp in the cervical esophagus on a thin stalk

Malignant tumors

  • Carcinoma

  • Metastases

  • Lymphoma

  • Spindle cell carcinoma (carcinosarcoma)

  • Malignant gastrointestinal stromal tumor

  • Polypoid, ulcerative, or annular. Squamous cell carcinoma, proximal; adenocarcinoma, distal. Most adenocarcinomas are from Barrett esophagus, usually polypoid

  • Can appear mucosal or extramucosal

  • Primary or secondary involvement of esophagus. Associated lymphadenopathy should be sought

  • Polypoid tumor in mid or distal esophagus. May expand the esophageal lumen

  • Submucosal, bulky. Can present as intraluminal mass

Nonneoplastic

  • Varices

  • Duplication cyst

  • Serpentine shape, shape changes. Also can be present in the stomach

  • Smooth surface. Oblique angle with esophageal contour, lumen displacement away from mass. Water attenuation at CT

Foreign body

Bones lodge in upper esophagus; meat impactions occur above gastroesophageal junction

1.51 and 1.52

Case 1.53

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. Small outpouchings arise from both sides of the hypopharynx.

Differential Diagnosis

Lateral pharyngeal pouches

Diagnosis

Lateral pharyngeal pouches

Discussion

Lateral pharyngeal pouches arise from an unsupported “weak area” of the thyrohyoid membrane that does not contain a muscular covering. Pouches may be best shown during the pharyngeal phase of swallowing or by asking a patient to blow through closed lips (modified Valsalva maneuver). These pouches are common in asymptomatic patients and can be large in glassblowers, wind instrument players, and the elderly.

Case 1.54

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. A diverticulum arises from the posterior wall of the cervical esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Zenker diverticulum

  2. 2. Pseudo-Zenker diverticulum

Diagnosis

Zenker diverticulum

Discussion

Zenker diverticulum is a protrusion of the esophageal mucosa through an anatomically weak area in the posterior wall of the cervical esophagus. The site of weakness lies between the oblique and horizontal fibers of the esophageal wall, known as a Killian dehiscence or triangle. The cricopharyngeus muscle is invariably prominent just caudal to the diverticulum.

Zenker diverticula result from abnormally increased pressure generated in the hypopharynx. This high pressure is due to failure of the cricopharyngeus muscle to relax after pharyngeal contraction during swallowing. Many patients with gastroesophageal reflux have a prominent cricopharyngeus muscle.

Retention of food and fluid within the diverticulum can be uncomfortable, cause halitosis, or even lead to aspiration when the patient is recumbent. Cricopharyngeal myotomy and either surgical diverticulopexy or diverticulectomy may be required.

A pseudo-Zenker diverticulum results from barium being trapped between a pharyngeal contraction wave and a prominent cricopharyngeus muscle. This can result in a transient, small, saclike bulge off the posterior pharyngeal wall superior to the cricopharyngeus muscle.

Case 1.55

Esophagus

Findings

  1. A. Single-contrast anteroposterior esophagram.

  2. B. Lateral esophagram. A rounded, barium-filled diverticulum protrudes off lateral wall of upper cervical esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Killian-Jamieson diverticulum

  2. 2. Zenker diverticulum

Diagnosis

Killian-Jamieson diverticulum

Discussion

A Killian-Jamieson diverticulum protrudes through an area of weakness below the attachment of the cricopharyngeus muscle on the cricoid cartilage and lateral to the suspensory ligaments of the esophagus inserting on the cricoid cartilage, known as the Killian-Jamieson space. It presents radiographically as a diverticulum off the anterolateral wall of the proximal cervical esophagus just below the level of the cricopharyngeus muscle. Killian-Jamieson diverticula are more often bilateral than unilateral. A unilateral diverticulum can sometimes be confused with a Zenker diverticulum. However, on a lateral view, a Killian-Jamieson diverticulum should protrude anteriorly in relation to the cervical esophagus, unlike a Zenker diverticulum, which protrudes posteriorly.

Case 1.56

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. A wide-based outpouching arises from the mid esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Traction diverticulum

  2. 2. Pulsion diverticulum

Diagnosis

Mid-esophageal traction diverticulum

Discussion

The triangular shape of this diverticulum is often found among traction diverticula as a result of fibrosis in the periesophageal tissues. In the past, tuberculosis with inflammatory mediastinal lymph nodes was implicated as an important cause of traction diverticula. Today, most esophageal diverticula are pulsion in origin, developing as a result of esophageal motor disorders. Pulsion diverticula usually are rounded and fail to empty (they contain no muscle in their walls) with a peristaltic contraction.

Most mid-esophageal diverticula are asymptomatic. A large diverticulum can compress the esophagus and lead to dysphagia. If a diverticulum overflows into the esophagus, aspiration can occur. Inflammation and infection can lead to rare complications of perforation or fistulization.

Case 1.58

Esophagus

Findings

Case 1.57. Single-contrast esophagram. A large diverticulum is seen in the distal esophagus just above the gastroesophageal junction. Esophageal contractions also are visible.

Case 1.58. Contrast-enhanced CT. A large, thin-walled sac communicates with the esophagus. Orally administered contrast material and food are seen within the diverticulum.

Differential Diagnosis

Pulsion diverticulum

Diagnosis

Epiphrenic pulsion diverticulum

Discussion

Diverticula arising in the distal esophagus just above the gastroesophageal junction are referred to as epiphrenic diverticula. These outpouchings are nearly always pulsion in origin. Achalasia or other motor abnormalities of the esophagus often are associated with this condition. Both of these patients had achalasia. The visible contractions were nonpropulsive and characteristic of vigorous achalasia.

Table 1.4

Esophageal Diverticula

CASE

Pharyngeal

Usually referred to as pouches; due to weakness in region of tonsillar fossa and thyrohyoid membrane. Usually asymptomatic

1.53

Zenker

Posterior, immediately above prominent cricopharyngeus muscle

1.54

Killian-Jamieson

Arise from lateral esophagus just below cricopharyngeus muscle

1.55

Mid-esophageal

In the past, due to traction from granulomatous disease (tuberculosis); today, nearly always pulsion diverticula due to motor abnormalities

1.56

Epiphrenic

Distal esophageal segment due to motor abnormality of esophagus

1.57 and 1.58

Pseudodiverticulosis

Dilated submucosal glands cause multiple small outpouchings. Usually due to chronic reflux esophagitis. Candida is often cultured but is not the causative factor

1.8

Case 1.59

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. Multiple nonpropulsive contractions are present in the lower esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Tertiary contractions

  2. 2. Vigorous achalasia

Diagnosis

Nonspecific motor incoordination, tertiary esophageal contractions

Discussion

Esophageal contractions can be categorized as three separate types: primary, secondary, or tertiary. Primary esophageal peristalsis is initiated by a swallow and propagates a smooth, continuous contraction the length of the esophagus. Secondary esophageal peristalsis appears fluoroscopically identical to a primary wave, except it is not initiated by a swallow but rather by a bolus within the esophagus or by intraesophageal distention. Tertiary esophageal contractions are nonpropulsive contractions that may be single or multiple, and they do not result in clearing of esophageal contents. These contractions increase in frequency with age. Tertiary contractions also can be associated with many other conditions. Incomplete relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter also can occur in some patients. The single esophagraphic image shown here could be seen in vigorous achalasia (case 1.23). However, more esophageal dilatation might be expected, and, in this case, barium was seen to flow freely into the stomach across a normal gastroesophageal junction during real-time imaging.

Case 1.60

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. Numerous nonpropulsive contractions are present in the lower esophagus. This appearance has been likened to a corkscrew.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Diffuse esophageal spasm

  2. 2. Vigorous achalasia

  3. 3. Nonspecific motor incoordination

Diagnosis

Diffuse esophageal spasm (nutcracker esophagus)

Discussion

Diffuse esophageal spasm is characterized by dysphagia or chest pain, and at least 30% of swallows are associated with vigorous, repetitive, nonpropulsive contractions. Careful fluoroscopy eventually shows a normal peristaltic sequence. Lower esophageal sphincter function may be normal; however, nearly a third of patients have impaired relaxation or increased resting pressures. Various terms have been used to describe the radiographic appearance of the nonpropulsive contractions, including corkscrew, curling, rosary bead, and shish kebab esophagus.

The term nutcracker esophagus refers to a disorder characterized by the manometric findings of high-amplitude (>180 mm Hg) contractions in conjunction with chest discomfort. Radiographically, peristalsis is normal. Some authorities believe that this disorder is a precursor to diffuse esophageal spasm.

The principal differential consideration is vigorous achalasia (case 1.23). Achalasia can be excluded by a normal stripping wave in response to swallowing. Some patients are symptomatic, and others are not but have identical radiographic findings (nonspecific motor incoordination). It is important to exclude other causes of chest pain, especially coronary artery disease, before attributing it to the esophageal abnormalities.

Case 1.61

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. A ring (circumferential impression) is seen within the distal esophagus. At fluoroscopy, the ring was noted to be transient.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Muscular ring (A ring)

  2. 2. Mucosal ring (B ring)

Diagnosis

Muscular ring (A ring)

Discussion

A muscular ring appears as a broad, smooth indentation in the lower esophagus, just superior to the esophageal vestibule. It is caused by a muscular thickening and can be observed to change shape and disappear at fluoroscopy. A prominent muscular ring is encountered more often in patients with a hiatal hernia or gastroesophageal reflux and in some esophageal motor disorders. It is not known whether these associations are significant. The esophageal vestibule roughly corresponds in location to the manometrically defined lower esophageal sphincter and should not be confused with a hiatal hernia. At fluoroscopy, a peristaltic wave can be seen to pass through this region. Often a mucosal ring (B ring) also is visible during the examination. The B ring is a thin, fixed ring that does not change appearance and marks the location of the esophagogastric junction.

Case 1.62

Esophagus

Findings

Single-contrast esophagram. There is a thin, smooth, circumferential filling defect at the gastroesophageal junction (arrows) with a small associated hiatal hernia.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Schatzki ring

  2. 2. Chronic reflux stricture

Diagnosis

Schatzki ring

Discussion

A Schatzki ring is a symptomatic, thin constricting ring at the level of the gastroesophageal junction. The pathogenesis of this condition is unknown. Most patients complain of dysphagia with solid foods. Large pieces of meat are often most troublesome. Treatment varies from instructions on chewing more carefully to endoscopic mechanical disruption of the ring with a bougie or pneumatic dilation.

Radiographically, a thin, weblike constriction is present at the gastroesophageal junction. A hiatal hernia is often present. Some patients experience dysphagia if the luminal diameter is between 10 and 15 mm at the level of the ring. Virtually all patients are symptomatic if the ring narrows to 10 mm or less.

The term lower esophageal ring denotes a visible B ring that is asymptomatic. A Schatzki ring has a very characteristic appearance, and other conditions are rarely mistaken for it. It was originally defined as a B ring with luminal narrowing of 13 mm or less. A chronic reflux stricture should be longer and of different morphologic appearance.

Case 1.63

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. A thin, smooth, shelflike filling defect is present along the anterior wall of the cervical esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Esophageal web

  2. 2. Prominent anterior venous plexus

Diagnosis

Esophageal web

Discussion

Esophageal webs are thin folds composed of mucosa and submucosa which result in a 1- to 2-mm–wide shelflike filling defect along the anterior wall of the lower hypopharynx, pharyngoesophageal segment, or proximal cervical esophagus. Occasionally, webs may be multiple and more masslike in configuration. Esophageal webs are usually asymptomatic. However, dysphagia can develop when the web results in marked luminal narrowing. Clinically significant narrowing may present as a jet phenomenon, in which a thin column of barium jets through the center of a circumferential web. Many investigators have attempted to associate cervical esophageal webs with other conditions. The association between esophageal webs and iron deficiency anemia (Plummer-Vinson syndrome) remains controversial. Reports also have suggested an association between webs and upper esophageal or pharyngeal carcinoma. The great majority of webs remain an isolated finding, often incidentally discovered without an associated disorder.

Distinction of an esophageal web from the anteriorly located venous plexus may be difficult. Careful study of the venous plexus will show variability in its size, whereas a web remains fixed and unchanging from swallow to swallow.

Case 1.64

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. A pair of shallow indentations approximately 2 cm apart are seen along the lateral wall of the cervical esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Ectopic gastric mucosa

  2. 2. Blistering skin disorder

Diagnosis

Ectopic gastric mucosa

Discussion

Ectopic gastric mucosa is thought to be a congenital abnormality, resulting from residue of columnar epithelium not replaced by stratified squamous epithelium during normal embryogenesis. Ectopic gastric mucosa usually is located in the cervical esophagus, which is the last place in the esophagus to undergo replacement with stratified squamous epithelium. Radiographic evidence of ectopic gastric mucosa in the upper esophagus can be found in up to 3% of patients. The patches of ectopic gastric mucosa are usually less than 2 cm in diameter. Recognition of the characteristic radiographic features of this abnormality makes endoscopy and follow-up unnecessary. However, ectopic gastric mucosa occasionally results in dysphagia and appears polypoid or irregular in shape. An atypical appearance should be evaluated endoscopically. A blistering skin disorder could present with similar findings.

Case 1.66

Esophagus

Findings

Case 1.65. Double-contrast esophagrams. A and B. There is a prominent oblique, smooth-surfaced, tubular-shaped filling defect on the posterior aspect of the esophagus.

Case 1.66. Contrast-enhanced CTs. A and B. An aberrant right subclavian artery is present coursing posterior to the esophagus.

Differential Diagnosis

Aberrant right subclavian artery

Diagnosis

Aberrant right subclavian artery

Discussion

An aberrant right subclavian artery is the most common aortic arch anomaly seen as an impression on the esophagus. The aberrant right subclavian artery arises just distal to the normal left subclavian artery and traverses obliquely to the right, posterior to the esophagus. The impression is extramucosal and is so typical of the abnormality that no further studies are needed. The abnormality is rarely symptomatic and needs no treatment.

Case 1.68

Esophagus

Findings

Case 1.67. Single-contrast esophagram. There is dilatation of the esophagus with a small esophageal hiatal hernia. Real-time imaging showed absent peristalsis in the distal two-thirds of the esophagus and free gastroesophageal reflux of barium in the recumbent position. Slight irregularity is present at the gastroesophageal junction.

Case 1.68. Unenhanced high-resolution CT. Peripheral interstitial fibrotic changes are present in the lung bases with associated ground-glass infiltrates and traction bronchiectasis. Pulmonary findings are consistent with nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis. Dilatation of the distal esophagus also can be seen with an air-fluid level.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Scleroderma

  2. 2. Achalasia

  3. 3. Pseudoachalasia

Diagnosis

Scleroderma

Discussion

Scleroderma (progressive systemic sclerosis) involves the esophagus in 80% of cases, and the radiographic changes in the esophagus often precede development of the characteristic skin changes. Pathologically, degeneration and atrophy of the smooth muscle and fibrosis are present within the distal two-thirds of the esophagus.

Radiographic changes relate to decreased peristalsis in the distal two-thirds of the esophagus, with an incompetent lower esophageal sphincter. Gastroesophageal reflux and changes of peptic esophagitis often are observed. Chronically, a lower esophageal stricture is often present.

Diminished esophageal clearance results in stasis and the possibility of secondary esophageal candidiasis and aspiration pneumonitis. Chronic reflux esophagitis can be complicated by Barrett esophagus.

The lungs are involved pathologically in nearly 90% of patients with scleroderma. However, radiographic evidence of pulmonary involvement is found in only 25% of patients. The appearance is indistinguishable from other causes of interstitial pulmonary fibrosis. Findings of scleroderma in the small bowel include diminished peristalsis, dilatation, sacculations, and closely spaced valvulae conniventes.

Case 1.69

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. A portion of the gastric cardia protrudes through the esophageal hiatus into the thorax. Gastric rugae are seen within the hernia sac. A lower esophageal mucosal ring (arrow) (B ring) demarcates the gastroesophageal junction.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Sliding hiatal hernia

  2. 2. Schatzki ring

Diagnosis

Sliding hiatal hernia

Discussion

Identification of a B ring at least 2 cm above the diaphragm allows hiatal hernia to be diagnosed with confidence. The significance of esophageal hiatal hernias is controversial. Usual symptoms are from gastroesophageal reflux: heartburn, chest pain, and water brash. Occasionally, large hernias can be associated with aspiration, respiratory distress, and compromised lung excursion. A hiatal hernia as a single radiographic finding is a poor predictor of gastroesophageal reflux or reflux esophagitis. Most patients with significant reflux esophagitis, however, have a hiatal hernia.

The main differential consideration in this case is a Schatzki ring (case 1.62). A lower esophageal ring has little clinical relevance unless there is significant compromise of the esophageal lumen. Some patients experience dysphagia if the luminal diameter is between 10 and 15 mm, whereas virtually all patients are symptomatic if the diameter is 10 mm or less. Pneumatic dilation of the mucosal ring is often successful in treating symptomatic patients.

Case 1.70

Esophagus

Findings

Double-contrast esophagram. The gastroesophageal junction is normally positioned, and a portion of the stomach herniates into the thorax by way of the esophageal diaphragmatic hiatus.

Differential Diagnosis

  1. 1. Paraesophageal hernia

  2. 2. Sliding esophageal hiatal hernia

Diagnosis

Paraesophageal hernia

Discussion

Paraesophageal hernias are more prone to complication than sliding esophageal hiatal hernias. Complications include gastritis and bleeding in the hernia (due to edematous and hemorrhagic rugal folds from venous and lymphatic obstruction), gastric ulcers at the level of the diaphragmatic hiatus, and strangulation of the hernia sac.

Radiographic diagnosis is dependent on identifying a normally positioned esophageal junction with the stomach passing through the esophageal hiatus anteriorly. A sliding esophageal hiatal hernia can at times mimic a paraesophageal hernia, but in these cases the esophageal junction is always abnormally located within the thoracic cavity. Most paraesophageal hernias undergo surgical repair because a high mortality is associated with strangulation—a complication that may occur in up to 30% of patients.

Case 1.72

Esophagus

Findings

Case 1.71. Single-contrast esophagram with water-soluble contrast. A large collection of extravasated contrast (arrows) is present in the mediastinum.

Case 1.72. CT with oral contrast. Extravasated oral contrast is seen in the pleural spaces bilaterally. Air also is present within the mediastinum and pleural spaces.

Differential Diagnosis

Esophageal perforation

Diagnosis

Esophageal perforation

Discussion

In case 1.71, the patient had a known history of achalasia, and pain developed after dilation of the lower esophageal sphincter. In case 1.72, the patient also had pain after endoscopy. Surgical repair was necessary in both cases.

Esophageal perforation usually is due to iatrogenic procedures (endoscopic perforations cause 75%–80% of all esophageal leaks) or spontaneous perforation (Boerhaave syndrome) from violent retching or vomiting. Most endoscopic perforations involve the cervical esophagus near the cricopharyngeus muscle. Spontaneous rupture nearly always occurs just above the gastroesophageal junction on the left. Early detection of these perforations is critical to patient survival. Small cervical esophageal leaks often can be treated conservatively, but large leaks must be surgically repaired to prevent development of a retropharyngeal abscess. Untreated thoracic esophageal perforations have at least a 70% mortality rate (due to mediastinitis) if the leak is undiscovered.

Esophageal perforations can be suspected from the chest radiograph by detection of pneumomediastinum, widening of the mediastinum, hydropneumothorax, pleural effusion, and subcutaneous emphysema. Perforations suspected on the basis of the chest radiograph or on clinical grounds should be confirmed by an esophagram with water-soluble contrast material. Small leaks may be overlooked with water-soluble contrast agents, and negative studies should be followed by barium esophagraphy.

CT is excellent for evaluating patients with suspected or known esophageal perforation. Small amounts of extravasated air (pneumomediastinum) or contrast material and its location within the chest can be identified readily.

Table 1.5

Miscellaneous Esophageal Conditions

CASE

Nonspecific motor incoordination

Nonpropulsive contractions. Stripping wave present with observation. Common in the elderly

1.59

Esophageal spasm

Tertiary contractions with pain

1.60

Muscular ring

Transient, nonobstructing

1.61

Schatzki ring

Fixed, narrows lumen 13 mm. B ring, esophagogastric junction

1.62

Esophageal web

Membranous, usually cervical esophagus. Association with anemia is controversial

1.63

Ectopic gastric mucosa

Lateral esophageal indentations

1.64

Aberrant right subclavian artery

Oblique, smooth filling defect in upper posterior thoracic esophagus

1.65 and 1.66

Scleroderma

Aperistalsis of distal two-thirds. Patulous gastroesophageal junction, reflux. Reflux esophagitis, lung fibrosis

1.67 and 1.68

Hiatal hernia

Gastroesophageal junction in thorax. Sliding (common) or short (due to chronic reflux esophagitis)

1.69

Paraesophageal hernia

Gastroesophageal junction normally positioned. High incidence of incarceration and strangulation

1.70

Esophageal perforation

Contained within mediastinum or pleural communication. Iatrogenic—usually cervical location; vomiting (Boerhaave syndrome)—usually distal esophageal tear

1.71 and 1.72

Table 1.6

Differential Diagnoses

  • Esophagitis

      • Peptic (reflux) esophagitis

      • Barrett esophagus

      • Medication-induced esophagitis

      • Crohn esophagitis

      • Infectious esophagitis

        • Candidiasis

        • Herpes esophagitis

        • Cytomegalovirus esophagitis

        • Human immunodeficiency virus esophagitis

  • Strictures

    • BENIGN

        • Peptic (reflux) stricture

        • Barrett stricture

        • Caustic stricture

        • Radiation stricture

        • Achalasia

        • Blistering skin disorders

        • Eosinophilic esophagitis

    • MALIGNANT

        • Annular carcinoma

        • Pseudoachalasia

        • Lymphoma (extrinsic compression by adenopathy)

  • Diverticula

      • Pharyngeal

      • Zenker

      • Killian-Jamieson

      • Mid-esophageal

      • Epiphrenic

      • Pseudodiverticulosis

  • Filling Defects

    • BENIGN TUMORS

        • Leiomyoma

        • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor

        • Adenoma

        • Inflammatory esophagogastric polyp

        • Fibrovascular polyp

    • MALIGNANT TUMORS

        • Carcinoma

        • Metastases

        • Lymphoma

        • Leiomyosarcoma

        • Malignant gastrointestinal stromal tumor

        • Spindle cell carcinoma

    • NONNEOPLASTIC FILLING DEFECTS

        • Varices

        • Esophageal duplication cyst

        • Ectopic gastric mucosa

        • Foreign body


Esophageal Strictures
Figure 1.73 (Used with permission of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.)

Esophageal Strictures

Figure 1.73
(Used with permission of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.)


Esophageal Narrowings
Figure 1.74 (Used with permission of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.)

Esophageal Narrowings

Figure 1.74
(Used with permission of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.)


Esophageal diverticula
Figure 1.75 (Used with permission of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.)

Esophageal diverticula

Figure 1.75
(Used with permission of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.)


esophageal filling defects
Figure 1.76 (Used with permission of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.)

esophageal filling defects

Figure 1.76
(Used with permission of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.)

Questions

Multiple Choice (choose the best answer)

1.1. Which of the following is most likely to be associated with the condition shown in the figure?Esophagus

  1. a. Occult gastrointestinal blood loss

  2. b. Lymphadenopathy

  3. c. Heartburn

  4. d. Halitosis

  5. e. Dysphagia

1.2. For the case shown in Question 1.1, what test should be recommended next?

  1. a. Chest CT

  2. b. Abdominal CT

  3. c. Endoscopy

  4. d. Transthoracic needle aspiration/biopsy

  5. e. Fecal occult blood testing

1.3. Which of the following is the most likely diagnosis for the findings in the figure?Esophagus

  1. a. Nonspecific motor incoordination

  2. b. Eosinophilic esophagitis

  3. c. Medication-induced esophagitis

  4. d. Radiation esophagitis

  5. e. Reflux esophagitis

Match images A through F with the responses listed below.

  • Esophagus

  • Esophagus

  • Esophagus

  • Esophagus

  • Esophagus

  • Esophagus

  1. 1.4 ______ Cirrhosis

  2. 1.5 ______ Barrett esophagus

  3. 1.6 ______ Regurgitation

  4. 1.7 ______ Lymphoma

Match the letters on the anatomic structure shown in the figure with the appropriate label listed below.

Esophagus

  1. A

  2. B

  3. C

  4. D

  5. E

  6. F

  1. 1.8 ______ Vallecula

  2. 1.9 ______ Region of the vocal cords

  3. 1.10 ______ Pyriform sinus

Answers

1.1. Answer c. The patient has a benign-appearing stricture in the upper esophagus. Differential possibilities include Barrett esophagus or medication-induced esophagitis with a secondary stricture. This patient had Barrett esophagus, a condition of mucosal metaplasia from squamous mucosa to adenomatous (glandular) mucosa. Barrett esophagus is due to long-standing reflux esophagitis, usually associated with chronic heartburn.

Occult blood loss would likely be due to a neoplasm or perhaps varices in the esophagus. There is no evidence of either in this case.

Lymphadenopathy can narrow the esophageal lumen, but there is no evidence of an extrinisic mass on the esophagus. Lymphadenopathy would not be expected to cause such a focal narrowing.

Halitosis can be associated with a Zenker diverticulum, but the radiographic findings do not support this. Potentially abundant gastroesophageal reflux could lead to halitosis, but this answer is much less likely.

Dysphagia usually occurs once the esophageal lumen narrows to less than 1 cm in diameter. Although the luminal diameter is compromised, it remains wide enough that dysphagia is unlikely.

1.2. Answer c. For patients in whom Barrett esophagus is suspected, endoscopy is recommended to confirm the diagnosis and to exclude complicating dysplasia or carcinoma by biopsy.

1.3. Answer b. Irregularity of the upper esophagus or stricture, or both, is typical of esosinophilic esophagitis. This patient has both luminal irregularity and narrowing of the esophageal lumen.

Nonspecific motor incoordination refers to nonpropulsive contractions of the esophagus, most commonly affecting the smooth muscle portion of the esophagus (lower two-thirds), where the bolus of contrast does not pass smoothly into the stomach. Occasionally there can be persistent contractions that have the appearance of a shish-kebab or rosary-bead esophagus—with alternating narrowing and dilatation.

Medication-induced esophagitis is characterized by focal changes of esophagitis (granular mucosa, erosions) usually in the upper esophagus, at the level of the thoracic inlet or bronchial impression. In this case, the findings are located too cephalad and are not typical of acute changes from esophagitis.

Radiation esophagitis is usually a long segment of narrowed, featureless esophagus in the chronic state, in the regions of a known radiation port.

Reflux esophagitis is usually first and worst at the gastroesophageal junction, extending into the proximal esophagus (unless the patients have a Barrett esophagus). Fold thickening, mucosal granularity, erosions, and deeper ulcers are most commonly encountered.

  1. 1.4. Answer e. Figure e shows varices. Serpentine filling defects within the lower esophagus are typical of esophageal varices. Portal venous hypertension that leads to the development of esophageal and gastric varices can develop in patients with cirrhosis.

  2. 1.5. Answer b. Figure b shows esophageal cancer. Irregular, abrupt narrowing of the esophageal lumen with ulceration of the mucosa is typical of an annular esophageal cancer. Most cancers within the lower half of the esophagus develop from Barrett esophagus.

  3. 1.6. Answer c. Figure c shows a large, elongated, polypoid filling defect in the upper esophagus, which is typical of a fibrovascular polyp. Because these lesions have a long stalk, they can present clinically with regurgitation of the polyp into the mouth.

  4. 1.7. Answer d. Figure d shows a long stricture of the esophagus; this could be due to radiation treatment, prior caustic ingestion, or a blistering skin disease. Radiation injury to the bowel usually results in a smooth, featureless stricture. Patients with mediastinal lymphoma may receive radiation therapy.

  1. 1.8. Answer e.

  2. 1.9. Answer b.

  3. 1.10. Answer c.

Key for all structures shown on the figure for Questions 1.8 through 1.10:

  1. A. Base of the tongue

  2. B. Vallecula

  3. C. Epiglottis

  4. D. Pyriform sinus

  5. E. Soft palate

  6. F. Region of the vocal cords

  7. G. Trachea

  8. H. Esophagus

  9. I. Hyoid bone

  10. J. Cricoid cartilage