Overview

What Is Esophageal Scleroderma?

Scleroderma is a chronic autoimmune disorder where the body attacks itself, causing the scarring and thickening of body tissues. When it affects the digestive system, it can cause abnormal functioning of the smooth muscle of the esophagus (the muscular tube connecting the mouth to the stomach), causing a condition known as esophageal scleroderma. Esophageal scleroderma is one of the most common features of scleroderma.

Women are more likely to develop scleroderma than men, and Native Americans and African Americans are more likely to develop scleroderma than people of European descent.

Esophageal scleroderma can lead to esophageal strictures (narrowing of the esophagus) and weakened muscles of the esophagus, which means:

  • Food travels more slowly as it passes to the stomach
  • The sphincter (muscular valve) that leads to the stomach doesn’t close fully, allowing food and stomach acid to return to the esophagus

Esophageal scleroderma can also be related to the development of Barrett's esophagus.

Related Resources

Scleroderma Foundation*
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