Esophageal strictures can be caused due to foreign bodies, cancer, ingestion of caustic substances as well as acid reflux from regurgitation.
Esophageal stricture can be a devastating complication of esophageal foreign bodies because the scar tissue that forms once the esophagus heals is not as elastic as normal esophageal tissue. This leads to the formation of a ring within the esophagus that prevents passage of food and occasionally water.
Recent history of general anesthesia is common in cases of esophageal stricture due to gastroesophageal reflux. The acid can cause severe damage to the esophagus leading to a stricture. Esophageal strictures are typically treated with ballooning procedures, which slowly dilate the esophageal wall. This process should be performed in several steps as overt acute dilation can lead to significant scar tissue formation and/or esophageal rupture, which can be life threatening. Procedures are typically performed every 5-7 days under general anesthesia and most patients are able to go home the same day. Dogs will typically require 3-4 ballooning procedures in order to achieve enough dilation that they can eat well. However, some dogs will require many more procedures. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict how many procedures will be required because it depends on each dog or cat's body's ability to form scar tissue. If the stricture is severe enough, your veterinarian may also recommend feeding tube placement to make sure the patient is getting nutrients.