Esophageal food bolus obstruction

Esophageal food bolus obstruction


Caption = Endoscopic image of patient with esophageal food bolus obstruction due to a grape in the setting of eosinophilic esophagitis
DiseasesDB = 17942
ICD10 =
ICD9 = ICD9|787.2
MedlinePlus =
eMedicineSubj =
eMedicineTopic =
MeshID =
An esophageal food bolus obstruction (or steakhouse syndromecite journal | last = Stadler | first = J. | coauthors = A. H. Hölscher, H. Feussner, J. Dittler and J. R. Siewert | year = 1989 | month = December | title =The "steakhouse syndrome". Primary and definitive diagnosis and therapy | journal = Surgical Endoscopy | volume = 3 | issue = 4 | pages = 195–8 | doi =10.1007/BF02171545 | pmid = 2623551 ] ) is a medical emergency caused by the obstruction of the esophagus by an ingested foreign body. It is usually associated with diseases that narrow the lumen of the esophagus, such as eosinophilic esophagitis, Schatzki rings, peptic strictures, webs, or cancers of the esophagus; rarely it can be seen in disorders of the movement of the esophagus, such as nutcracker esophagus. While some esophageal food boluses can pass by themselves or with the assistance of medications, some require the use of endoscopy to push the obstructing food into the stomach, or remove it from the esophagus.

Clinical presentation

Many foods can lodge themselves in the esophagus, but the most common are meats such as steak, poultry, or porkcite journal |author=Baraka A, Bikhazi G |title=Oesophageal foreign bodies |journal=British medical journal |volume=1 |issue=5957 |pages=561–3 |year=1975 |pmid=1139150 |doi=] leading to the colourful description of the phenomenon as steakhouse syndrome. People with food bolus obstruction typically display acute dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), often to the point that they cannot even swallow their saliva, leading to drooling. They may also suffer from chest pain, neck pain, regurgitation of food, or painful swallowing (odynophagia).cite journal |author=Nandi P, Ong GB |title=Foreign body in the oesophagus: review of 2394 cases |journal=The British journal of surgery |volume=65 |issue=1 |pages=5–9 |year=1978 |pmid=623968 |doi=]

Patients with esophageal food boluses are also at risk of complications, such as perforation of the esophagus, and aspiration into the lungs. As a result, urgent treatment of patients with high-risk features, or a lengthy duration of symptoms, is recommended.cite journal |author=Eisen GM, Baron TH, Dominitz JA, "et al" |title=Guideline for the management of ingested foreign bodies |journal=Gastrointestinal Endoscopy |volume=55 |issue=7 |pages=802–6 |year=2002 |pmid=12024131 |doi=]

Predisposing conditions

Food bolus obstruction is most commonly caused by Schatzki rings, which are mucosal rings of unknown cause in the lower esophagus.cite journal |author=Longstreth GF, Longstreth KJ, Yao JF |title=Esophageal food impaction: epidemiology and therapy. A retrospective, observational study |journal=Gastrointestinal Endoscopy |volume=53 |issue=2 |pages=193–8 |year=2001 |pmid=11174291 |doi=] Foodstuff jams into the esophagus due to the narrowing caused by the ring. An increasingly commonly recognized cause for esophageal food bolus obstruction is eosinophilic esophagitis, which is an inflammatory disorder of the mucosa of the esophagus, of unknown cause.cite journal |author=Kerlin P, Jones D, Remedios M, Campbell C |title=Prevalence of eosinophilic esophagitis in adults with food bolus obstruction of the esophagus |journal=Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology |volume=41 |issue=4 |pages=356–61 |year=2007 |pmid=17413601 |doi=10.1097/01.mcg.0000225590.08825.77] cite journal |author=Cheung KM, Oliver MR, Cameron DJ, Catto-Smith AG, Chow CW |title=Esophageal eosinophilia in children with dysphagia |journal=Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition |volume=37 |issue=4 |pages=498–503 |year=2003 |pmid=14508223 |doi=] Many alterations caused by eosinophilic esophagitis can predispose to food boluses; these include the presence of multiple rings and narrowing of the lumen.cite journal |author=Cohen MS, Kaufman AB, Palazzo JP, Nevin D, Dimarino AJ, Cohen S |title=An audit of endoscopic complications in adult eosinophilic esophagitis |journal=Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology |volume=5 |issue=10 |pages=1149–53 |year=2007 |pmid=17683993 |doi=10.1016/j.cgh.2007.05.017] When considering esophageal dilation to treat a patient with food bolus obstruction, care must be made to look for features of eosinophilic esophagitis, as these patients are at a higher risk of dilation-associated complications.cite journal |author=Leclercq P, Marting A, Gast P |title=Eosinophilic esophagitis |journal=New England Journal of Medicine |volume=357 |issue=14 |pages=1446; author reply 1446–7 |year=2007 |pmid=17914050 |doi=10.1056/NEJMc071646]

Other conditions that predispose to food bolus obstructions are esophageal webs and peptic strictures. Food boluses are common in the course of illness in patients with esophageal cancer but are more difficult to treat as endoscopy to push the bolus is less safe. Patients with esophageal self-expandable metallic stents may present with food boluses lodged within the stent lumen. Rarely disorders of movement of the esophagus, such as nutcracker esophagus, can predispose to food bolus obstruction.cite journal |author=Chae HS, Lee TK, Kim YW, "et al" |title=Two cases of steakhouse syndrome associated with nutcracker esophagus |journal=Diseases of the Esophagus |volume=15 |issue=4 |pages=330–3 |year=2002 |pmid=12472482 |doi=]


The standard treatment of food bolus obstruction is the use of endoscopy or fibre-optic cameras inserted by mouth into the esophagus. Endoscopes can be used to diagnose the cause of the food bolus obstruction, as well as to remove the obstruction. Traditional endoscopic techniques involved the use of an overtube, a plastic tube inserted into the esophagus prior to the removal of the food bolus, in order to reduce the risk of aspiration into the lungs at the time of endoscopy. However, the push technique, which involves insufflating air into the esophagus, and gently pushing the bolus toward the stomach instead, has emerged as a common and safe way of removing the obstruction.cite journal |author=Katsinelos P, Kountouras J, Paroutoglou G, Zavos C, Mimidis K, Chatzimavroudis G |title=Endoscopic techniques and management of foreign body ingestion and food bolus impaction in the upper gastrointestinal tract: a retrospective analysis of 139 cases |journal=Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology |volume=40 |issue=9 |pages=784–9 |year=2006 |pmid=17016132 |doi=10.1097/01.mcg.0000225602.25858.2c]

Other tools may be used to remove food boluses. The Roth net is a mesh net that can be inserted through the endoscope, and opened and closed from the outside; it can be used to retrieve pieces of obstructed food. Snares, which are normally used to remove polyps can be used to macerate the food causing the obstruction. Dormia baskets, which are metal baskets used to remove stones from the common bile duct in a procedure known as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, can be opened and closed from the outside in a similar manner to macerate food and facilitate removal. Forceps used for biopsies can also be employed in a similar manner.

Historical treatment of food bolus obstruction included administration of proteolytic enzymes (such as meat tenderizers), or even acidic substances, such as Coca-Cola with the purpose of degrading the meat that was blocked; however, this was often complicated by perforation of the esophagus.cite journal |author=Goldner F, Danley D |title=Enzymatic digestion of esophageal meat impaction. A study of Adolph's Meat Tenderizer |journal=Digestive Diseases and Sciences |volume=30 |issue=5 |pages=456–9 |year=1985 |pmid=3921329 |doi=] cite journal |author=Karanjia ND, Rees M |title=The use of Coca-Cola in the management of bolus obstruction in benign oesophageal stricture |journal=Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England |volume=75 |issue=2 |pages=94–5 |year=1993 |pmid=8476194 |doi=] Other modalities rarely used now include administration of anti-spasmodic medications, such as hyoscine butylbromide,cite journal |author=Thomas L, Webb C, Duvvi S, Jones T, Reddy KT |title=Is buscopan effective in meat bolus obstruction? |journal=Clinical otolaryngology |volume=30 |issue=2 |pages=183–5 |year=2005 |pmid=15839872 |doi=10.1111/j.1365-2273.2004.00931.x] removal of boluses using catheters,cite journal |author=Dieter RA, Norbeck DE, Acuna A, Rogers J |title=Fogarty catheter removal of cervical esophageal meat bolus. Steak-eater's disease |journal=Archives of surgery (Chicago: 1960) |volume=105 |issue=5 |pages=790–1 |year=1972 |pmid=5081553 |doi=] and the use of large-bore tubes inserted into the esophagus to forcefully lavage it.cite journal |author=Kozarek RA, Sanowski RA |title=Esophageal food impaction: description of a new method for bolus removal |journal=Digestive Diseases and Sciences |volume=25 |issue=2 |pages=100–3 |year=1980 |pmid=7353455 |doi=]


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