Nonneoplastic disorders
Impacted food

Authors: Nat Pernick, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 16 January 2018, last major update June 2016

Copyright: (c) 2003-2018,, Inc.

PubMed search: Impacted food esophagus
Page views in 2018: 102
Page views in 2019 to date: 5
Cite this page: Pernick, N. Impacted food. website. Accessed January 23rd, 2019.
Definition / general
  • Example: liver tissue with diffuse thermal artifact if food is cooked
  • No esophageal squamous mucosa
  • Occurs in approximately 13 per 100,000 adults per year
  • Most common in patients with underlying pathology, such as strictures or eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Less frequent causes include esophageal cancer and motility disorders
Clinical features
  • Symptoms: dysphagia, odynophagia, retrosternal pain, foreign body sensation, vomiting and respiratory issues from tracheal compression
  • Patients can clearly specify the onset of symptoms, although the location of the pain may not correlate with the actual area of the impaction
  • Most small foreign bodies (including nonfood objects) pass spontaneously through the gastrointestinal system in about 4 - 6 days once they have cleared the esophagus
  • Should be removed within 24 hours to prevent complications such as perforation, abscess and fistula
Case reports
  • Typically, treated by breaking it up and pushing it into the stomach but if this is not possible, it can usually be retrieved using different types of endoscopic devices
  • Surgery is reserved for cases that fail endoscopic removal or if perforation is suspected
  • Follow up should include a diagnostic workup to rule out underlying disease (Endoscopy 2016;48:489)
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on PathOut server:

Case of the Week #391 (lamb liver):

Cytokeratin 7

Cytokeratin 19