Oesophagus, disorders of

Several disorders, most of which cause swallowing difficulties and/or chest pain. Infections of the oesophagus are rare but may occur in immunosuppressed patients. The most common are herpes simplex and candidiasis (thrush). Oesophagitis is usually due to reflux of stomach contents, causing heartburn. Corrosive oesophagitis can occur as a result of swallowing caustic chemicals. Both may cause an oesophageal stricture. Congenital defects include oesophageal atresia, which requires surgery soon after birth. Tumours of the oesophagus are quite common; about 90 per cent are cancerous (see oesophagus, cancer of). Injury to the oesophagus is most commonly caused by a tear or rupture due to severe vomiting and retching. (See also swallowing difficulty.)


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