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Help! Has Anyone Dealt with Esophageal Strictures?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hi. I'm brand new to this forum and am hoping someone out there can offer me some advice.

We have been dealing with a situation for almost 3 months now with our Maine Coon, Gabby, and are seriously, beside ourselves!

To make a very, very long story short, she had esophagitis (an injury to the lining of the esophagus). When it healed, it healed with scar tissue, causing a serious stricture. An endoscopic exam revealed her esophagus was practically closed up at 3mm. in diameter. We had a specialist perform 2 balloon dilations of her throat (an inflation of a balloon in her throat to stretch the scar tissue back). She appeared to respond well to the treatment, however her symptoms eventually returned -- gagging, coughing and unable to swallow anything but mushed up and watered down canned food.

Her symptoms were not nearly as severe as they originally were (before her first surgery we were spoon feeding her because if she ate to fast everything came back up). Infact, she was eating on her own, relatively good portions and could be safely left to free feed. But she still could only tolerate very soft foods. We decided to go in for a third time -- thinking that one more treatment would be a charm and she would come out being even better.

Turns out her stricture had recurred and was right back to the original 3mm diameter that it was before the inital surgery. We (even our vet) were shocked! The first two surgeries took place back in mid-February and were performed within a 4 days of each other. We waited three weeks before exploring again -- her third procedure was yesterday. So over the past 3 weeks or so, the scar tissue grew back.

The specialist is suggesting another 2 balloon dilations within a week. Bear in mind each treatmeant is roughly $600cdn. and although that is not our main concern here, it's starting to add up. What bothers me, is that I cannot get a firm answer from this specialist if our cat's case is "typical" of this condition, or if it is just a lost cause.

I am wondering if there is anyone out there who has dealt with this type of condition with their cat, or if you have ever heard of anything like this? Before I subject my cat to the stress of two more procedures I want some sort of assurance that the scar tissue won't eventually grow back and choke her in the end.

Any advice at all would be so greatly appreciated. You have no idea!

Thanks for listening.

Mission, B.C.
post #2 of 5
to TCS! I have no experience with this, but hope that somebody who has will be along soon to advise you.
post #3 of 5
My Palekana also has an esophageal stricture. It was discovered during an endoscopy of her stomach. She also has an infected ulcer in her stomach. The vet who performed the endoscopy said her esophagus is opening and that the stricture should not be a problem. However after 10 days of antibiotic to heal the ulcer and medication to sooth her stomach she is still having severe problems eating. This problem started in January. Her behavior when attempting to eat leads me to believe the stricture is, in fact, a problem. I've had many conversations with the vet about her problems with no good solution. One of my other cats has an appointment for her annual exam tomorrow so I'll be discussing Palekana with the vet yet again at that time. Any information will be appreciated.

Moynd, I hope you can find something that works for your kitty. I did not know there was a procedure that could possibly open the esophagus. I'll mention that to my vet.
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Jean 44
Does your cat gag her food back up? I don't mean vomitting -- with a severe stricture the food will not make it into her tummy, but will be choked back up in a thick clear mucus. Our Gabby also gulps and you can see she is having a hard time swallowing.

Definitely ask your vet about a balloon dilation. This is the procedure we've been doing on Gabby. They put the cat to sleep and insert an endoscope down the throat. (This is actually the only way you can tell if the cat has a stricture in the first place.) Then they inflate a tiny balloon under pressure and stretch the esophagus and scar tissue back. After the second surgery Gabby was fully dilated at 10 to 15mm. but yesterday (3 wks. after her last treatment) we were told it had strictured back to 3-4mm. This is why we are now being told that 2 more successive treatments are necessary. From what I've read -- 4 or 5 treatments are not uncommon.

Not all vets are trained in this procedure, so you will want to consult with a very experienced specialist. The risks for this surgery are typical, but the biggest one is the esophagus getting perforated during the procedure.

We have the utmost confidence in the doctors who have been treating Gabby.

One more thing -- I noticed that you said your cat had been taking antibiotics. So was our Gabby. In fact, she had been on a very intense course of Clyndamicin and she either got a pill lodged in her throat or the acid reflux of the drugs burned her esophagus. Our vet called the condition esophagitis. It is in the healing of this injury that the scar tissue forms and causes the stricture. When our specialist heard that she had been on this drug, he said right away that he had seen that happen alot.

We have learned a very valuable and expensive lesson and I will never administer pills to my pets again unless they are crushed up and in a liquid suspension.

By the way, I got a lot of info off the internet. Just do a search for "esophageal strictures in cats" you'll find a lot of good reading.

Good luck at the vets tomorrow. Let me know how you make out.

post #5 of 5
I discussed Palekana with the vet again today and mentioned the balloon treatment for the esophageal stricture. She is familiar with the procedure but said it wasn't necessary in Palekana's case. She believes Palekana's esophagus is opening sufficiently. Also, the balloon treatment is used only in case of scarring of the esophagus. which is not the case with Palekana.

The vet decided to put Palekana on an antacid, specifically famotidine which is the generic for Pepcid. She is supposed to get 1/4 tablet crushed in water per day. I gave her the first dose late this afternoon. I hope this works to sooth her tummy so that she can start eating properly again.

No Palekana does not gag or cough up mucus. I guess that is another clue that her problem is not related to her esophagus. I feel as though she has difficulty swallowing because she shakes and twists her head as she eats. It just seems that something is bothering her in getting the food down. I've mentioned this to the vet several times but she doesn't think it is related to the esophagus.

Her antibiotic was a trans dermal. There is no way that Palekana will take a pill and she has refused to eat any food that has medication hidden in it. I was surprised that the specialist said a pill lodged in the throat could cause Gabby's problem. That is very interesting. My Eric has been on daily pills (prednisolone) for about six years so now I'm thinking about him, although he has no symptoms of a problem.
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