Crohn’s disease of the esophagus
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Esophageal damage is an uncommon manifestation of Crohn’s disease. The diagnosis should be considered in patients who have other intestinal manifestations of Crohn’s disease and present with esophageal symptoms. Diagnosis should be based on history, known extraesophageal Crohn’s disease, endoscopic evaluation with biopsy, and exclusion of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Mild disease should be treated with acid suppression and a short course of steroids. 5-amino-salicylates are not likely to be effective due to drug release characteristics. Patients who have moderate to severe disease should be treated aggressively with acid suppression, a longer course of steroids, and consideration of immunosuppressive therapy with 6-mercaptopurine or azathioprine. Infliximab or other anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy also can be considered in refractory patients to try to prevent the complications of stricturing and fistula formation. In those patients who develop strictures of the esophagus, treatment with balloon dilatation of the stricture followed by injection of a long-acting steroid such as triamcinolone will help to alleviate symptoms. Surgery may be required for severe, refractory symptoms, but it has a high morbidity in this population.
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