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Last winter, I accidentally swallowed a peace of steamed broccoli that was too big to go down.  We don't have any insurance, so instead of going to the emergency room to have it removed, I decided to tough it out until it went down on its own.  Over the next several days, I got very sick and ended up in the emergency room anyway.  They hooked me up with a gastroenterologist who did the usual tests.  The results they gave me were that I had "diminished peristalsis",  and that a biopsy showed some inflammation of the esophagus tissue.  That's all they told me.

My opinion is that the broccoli caused inflammation, which made it more difficult to swallow food, which caused more inflammation, etc, etc, etc.  I haven't been able to eat any real solid food since then.  I have been able to increase the roughness of the mush I eat since then, and I have been able to eat things that start out solid but end up dissolving easily in the throat, like some kinds of crackers.  From time to time, though, I have tried to eat something a bit bigger just to see if I could do it, and it's gotten stuck and made me very sick (diarrhea, nausea, rapid pounding heart, pain).  I also find that certain kinds of foods that never used to cause me any problems will cause my throat and esophagus to swell up.  Things like green leafy vegetables, beets (pretty much anything high in iron), and many herbs and spices.

On two occasions, an infection developed, and I have needed to go on antibiotics.  Right now I am only able to have foods that are fairly liquid in consistency, and I am on antibiotics.

Has anyone ever heard of or encountered a similar situation, and does anyone have any advice?



I'm not a doctor, but I work in surgery and we sometimes do a procedure called "esophageal dilation" to stretch open "strictures" or narrowed areas of the esophagus.  These strictures are most often caused by burns; people who swallow scalding hot coffee, etc.  

It's a simple and relatively painless out-patient procedure, with little chance of complications.  We just anesthetize the patient and slide the dialators down one after another, each one slightly larger in diameter until the stricture is stretched out and the esophagus is the same diameter all the way down.  

If you have a stricture, this should fix this...  If you don't, it shouldn't hurt anything to have it done anyway.  

If you don't have insurance, some doctors may try to avoid the expense of a visit to surgery, and hope things will get better with time.  Perhaps they will, but eventually, something may have to be done to fix this.  

If your problem really is a lack of paristalsis (the rhythmic contractions of muscles that move food down the esophagus) a dilation probably wouldn't help, but a lack of paristalsis would seem to me more of a nerve damage thing, and I don't see how you could have damaged your nerves in the way you describe.  

Good Luck & GodSpeed to you!  


Thanks, BillinSD.  They said there was no stricture, although I think you could say that a throat/esophagus that is swollen from inflammation is constricted in a sense, but I doubt that dilating the esophagus would do anything to reduce swelling due to inflammation, which appears to be what is causing the reduced peristalsis.