The esophagus is a muscular tube through which food and liquids get transported from the throat to the stomach. Material does not simply move passively through the esophagus. This muscular organ rhythmically contracts back towards the stomach. This allows a pet to stand and drink with its head down. A variety of problems can develop in the esophagus, many of them painful. The most common is regurgitation, which is different to vomiting.
Regurgitation occurs when food in the esophagus is almost effortlessly expelled back through the mouth. This can be mistaken for vomiting where food that has passed through the esophagus into the stomach is forcefully brought up by muscular contractions.
The most valuable diagnostic aid we use for examining the esophagus, or deeper in the digestive tract, is the endoscope. This is a flexible instrument that can be passed into hollow parts of the body allowing us to view and carry out procedures within that organ.
Enlarged Esophagus (Megaesophagus)
Although the exact cause is rarely found, this is the most common condition that causes pets to regurgitate food immediately after eating. It is frequently diagnosed when pups move from milk to solid food. In older cats it is a sign of Key-Gaskell Syndrome, a neurological condition, seen more in the UK than anywhere else in the world.