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Esophageal leiomyomas are the most common benign tumors that develop in the “food tube” or esophagus. Occurring at any age, this condition often appears in preteen children and young adults, with many of them women. While there is no specific cause for leiomyomas, a family history may play a role.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Leiomyoma

Small leiomyomas (less than 5 cm) often go unnoticed, causing no symptoms at all. Larger growths, though, may lead to:

  • trouble swallowing
  • chest pain
  • vomiting
  • coughing or choking
  • gastrointestinal bleeding (in rare and severe cases)

Esophageal leiomyoma symptoms share similarities with those of other swallowing disorders and gastrointestinal conditions. It is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis from your primary care physician or gastroenterologist. Recommended diagnostics tests may include:

  • CT Scan of the neck and chest
  • Upper Endoscopy
  • Upper GI Fluoroscopy Exam (barium swallow esophagram)
  • Esophageal Ultrasonography

Surgical Treatment Options for Leiomyoma

The size and/or location of your esophageal leiomyoma will determine the best course of treatment. At NorthShore, our experienced thoracic surgeons remove the majority of leiomyomas using minimally invasive video assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). Small incisions are made between the ribs for the insertion of pencil-thin surgical instruments and a tiny camera. The tumor is then carefully dissected free and removed from the wall of the esophagus.

For More Information

To schedule an appointment with one of our thoracic surgeons, please call 847.570.2868.