Feline esophagus

Last revised by Craig Hacking on 2 Oct 2019

Feline esophagus also known as esophageal shiver, refers to the transient transverse bands seen in the mid and lower esophagus on a double-contrast barium swallow.

The appearance is almost always associated with active gastro-esophageal reflux 2,3 and is thought to be due to contraction of the muscularis mucosae with resultant shortening of the esophagus and 'bunching up' of the mucosa in the lumen 2.

The folds are 1-2 mm thick and run horizontally around the entire circumference of the esophageal lumen. The findings are transient, seen following reflux and not during swallowing. The appearance is confined to the distal two-thirds of the thoracic esophagus.

Transverse esophageal folds were originally described in 1970 by Bremner et al. 5 as a normal anatomic feature of the cat esophagus. The term feline esophagus has hence been applied to the similar transient appearance in the human esophagus.   

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1
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  • Figure 2: endoscopic view
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  • Case 1: barium swallow
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  • Case 2: feline esophagus
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  • Case 3
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