Learning About Schatzki's Ring

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Location of esophagus, with detail of Schatzki's ring.

What is Schatzki's ring?

A Schatzki's ring is a ring of tissue that forms inside the esophagus, the tube that carries food and liquid to your stomach. This ring makes the esophagus narrow in one area, close to where it meets the stomach. It can make it hard to swallow. You may feel like food gets stuck in your esophagus.

Doctors aren't sure exactly what causes these rings. The ring is also something you can be born with.

How is Schatzki's ring diagnosed?

Your doctor may check your esophagus if you are having trouble swallowing or if you feel like food is getting stuck. The doctor will use a tool called an endoscope, or scope. It's a thin, flexible, lighted viewing tool. It goes into the mouth and down the throat. Your doctor can use it to check for any problems. The scope can also be used to take a sample of tissue to test (biopsy).

You might need an X-ray. For the X-ray, you may need to swallow a substance, such as barium, that makes it easier to see what happens in your esophagus.

How is Schatzki's ring treated?

A Schatzki's ring is usually treated with a procedure called esophageal dilation. Dilation can open up narrow areas of the esophagus.

Before the procedure, you will get medicines through a needle in your vein (IV) in your arm or hand. These medicines reduce pain and will make you feel relaxed and drowsy. Your throat will also be numbed. You may not remember much about the treatment.

The doctor will guide a balloon or a plastic tool for widening (dilator) down your throat and into your esophagus. The dilator is used to widen any narrow area.

To guide the dilator, the doctor may use a scope. Or he or she may use a thin wire as a guide.

After the procedure, you will be observed for 1 to 2 hours until the medicines wear off. If your throat was numbed before the test, you should not eat or drink until your throat is no longer numb. When you are fully recovered, you can go home.

You will not be able to drive or operate machinery for 12 hours after the test. Your doctor will tell you when you can go back to your usual diet and activities. Do not drink alcohol for 12 to 24 hours after the test.

You may still need to treat some symptoms of GERD. Your doctor may give you information about that.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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