Inflammation of the Esophagus Average Cost

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What are Inflammation of the Esophagus?

Early detection and aggressive treatment of the condition increases the likelihood of a positive prognosis. If left untreated, the esophagus may narrow. This is a much more serious condition with a very poor likelihood of survival. Cats displaying possible symptoms of esophagitis should be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis) in cats is a condition that causes difficulty in swallowing. It is commonly caused by exposure to stomach acid (gastrointestinal reflux) that causes irritation to the area. Esophageal inflammation may progress to aspiration pneumonia, a potentially serious condition that occurs when food is inhaled into the lungs.

Symptoms of Inflammation of the Esophagus in Cats

If the inflammation is mild, affected cats may not display any symptoms and medical treatment will not be necessary. In other cases, cats may display one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Regurgitation
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Repeated swallowing motions
  • Drooling
  • Gagging
  • Pain or crying out while swallowing
  • Extending head or neck while swallowing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Inability to digest food 
  • Reluctance to lie down
  • Fatigue 
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Development of pneumonia 


Esophageal inflammation in young kittens is typically recognized when they begin to eat solid foods. This is likely to be caused one of three primary types of congenital (inherited) disorders:

  • Congenital megaesophagus: Abnormal esophageal nerve development (most common in Siamese breeds)
  • Vascular ring entrapment: Restriction caused by abnormal blood vessels in the esophagus
  • Cricopharyngeal achalasia: Difficulty swallowing due to the failure of muscles in the throat to relax

Causes of Inflammation of the Esophagus in Cats

There are several possible underlying causes for the condition, including:

  • Congenital abnormality 
  • Complications from anesthesia (usually occurs in older cats)
  • Reflux
  • Foreign object or pill caught in esophagus
  • Ingestion of irritating chemicals
  • Ingestion of certain drugs
  • Chronic vomiting
  • Cancer

Diagnosis of Inflammation of the Esophagus in Cats

The treating veterinarian will begin by reviewing the cat’s detailed health history and discussing information regarding severity and onset of symptoms as well as any other possible causes or incidents that have preceded the condition. A standard set of lab tests will be ordered to rule out other conditions. This will likely include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. When esophagitis is the cause of the condition, it is likely that the lab tests will return normal results. If the condition has developed into pneumonia, blood tests may indicate a higher than usual white blood cell count, indicating the presence of an infection. 

Visual diagnosis may be made through the use of X-rays, ultrasound, barium contrast radiography, fluoroscopy, or endoscopy. The vet may also use endoscopy to extract a tissue sample that will be sent out for a biopsy.

Treatment of Inflammation of the Esophagus in Cats

Treatment recommendations and prognosis will depend greatly on the severity and underlying cause of the condition.

Outpatient Treatment

If the condition is not critical, affected cats can usually be treated on an outpatient basis. When the cause is acid reflux, prescription medications may be prescribed and dietary changes recommended in order to reduce stomach acid. 

If a foreign body is present in the esophagus, it may be removed with an endoscopy. Common items that are removed include bones, string, needles, and other objects.


If a cat has presented with pneumonia, hospitalization and more intense treatment may be necessary. Fluids will likely be needed to address dehydration and possible electrolyte imbalances. Oxygen may be used to assist cats that are experiencing difficulty breathing and antibiotics may also be prescribed to treat or avoid infections.

It may be recommended that food and water be withheld for several days to allow the esophagus to heal. Nutrition and hydration will likely need to be administered intravenously or through a feeding tube surgically placed in the stomach.

If items are lodged in the esophagus and cannot be removed with endoscopy, or if the condition has caused the esophagus to perforate, surgery will likely be required. In this situation, the prognosis for survival is often poor. 

Balloon Catheter Procedure

Some cats may be candidates for balloon catheter treatment. This occurs when a balloon catheter is placed in the esophagus and inflated to help relieve strictures. There is a higher chance of success with this procedure than with surgical treatments.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment is not usually recommended as the chance of recovery is generally very poor. An exception occurs when congenital disorders are discovered early in life. In this case, corrective surgery may be a viable option. The earlier that treatment occurs, the more likely it is to be effective. If left untreated, inherited conditions are likely to result in permanent esophageal damage.

Recovery of Inflammation of the Esophagus in Cats

As they recover, affected cats will need to be fed a highly nutritious diet consisting of soft foods in order to avoid further irritating the esophagus. Additional dietary recommendations may include feeding small, frequent meals that are low in fiber and fat. Regular follow-up appointments will be needed and it is likely that an endoscopy will be performed each time to ensure proper healing and recovery.

Inflammation of the Esophagus Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

short hair
5 Years
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Stuffed nose
lack of appetite

About 2 weeks ago, i noticed that my cat has lost quite a bit of weight, so i took him to the dr the next day. Blood tests were taken and they came back normal and the dr did an enema cause his colon was full. Later that day, at the food dish, i saw him just nibble a bit. It looked like he had a hard time swallowing. The dr then took xrays of the abdomen which showed nothing. Later that week, my cat completely shut down with eating. No matter how hard you try to get him to eat. He looked like he wanted to eat, but would walk away. The dr then did an ultrasound of the abdomen which showed up normal. But he hasnt been eating at all for days. So we began force feeding him with a syringe. The dr wants to do exploratory surgery of the abdomen but that costs too much and i have a feeling that the problem is the neck rather than the abdomen. We have a kitten who plays rough with him, biting in the neck really hard. Could that have done anything?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3319 Recommendations
A loss of appetite may be caused by a variety of different conditions and is common with most conditions if you look in a textbook; however possible causes may include trauma to the neck affecting the ability to swallow, nerve damage, dental disorders, oral trauma esophageal conditions among many other causes. Without examining Charley I cannot say what the specific cause of the loss of appetite is, but would recommend you visit another Veterinarian for a second opinion before going in for exploratory surgery if x-rays and ultrasound were clear. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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10 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

My 10 year old perfectly healthy himalayan male kitty went in for dental surgery on the 29th of June, Friday. I took him back on Saturday because i knew something was wrong but was dismissed by the vet....I got him in the following Monday morning and the vet then said 'it might be esophagitis' the vet is treating him with Cerenia 2.2 - 33 lb injection 10 mg/ml and Metoclopramide 1 - 30# inj. 5 mg/ml and Buprenorphine SR injection 3mg/ml **CS and an appetite stimulant. He was 19 pounds before surgery and now weighs 18.10 pounds. He had no extractions. ......should i see a different vet? Is he being treated properly??

Thank you

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3319 Recommendations
Without examining Silver I cannot determine the cause of the symptoms, it may be inflammation of the esophagus but I cannot say for certain; however sometimes during anaesthesia some stomach acid may pass into the esophagus which may lead to irritation or in some cases form a stricture. If you’re looking for another opinion it would be worth visiting another Veterinarian for an examination to put your mind at ease. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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11 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Difficult Bowel Movements

My cat fell down from 6th floor. As per the xray done it seems there is a damage to the food pipe of my cat. Can you let me know what treatment should be followed.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3319 Recommendations
It depends on the exact type of injury and where if is along the esophagus as it is a long portion of the gastrointestinal tract which passes down the neck, through the thorax and through the diaphragm. Without examining Rosh and seeing the x-rays I cannot comment on the specific course of action that should be taken; but if there is a tear it should be sutured, any other injuries may require resection and anastomosis or another method depending on the specific type of injury. You should discuss with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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