Feline oesophagus

Case contributed by Dr Matt A. Morgan


Epigastric pain.

Patient Data

Age: 55-60
Gender: Female

Spot radiograph from a double contrast oesophagram.

There are numerous 1-2 mm radiolucent folds across the oesophagus. The folds are angled with respect to the center of the oesophagus in a "herringbone" pattern. 

The folds occur transiently.

Case Discussion

Feline oesophagus appears when the oesophagus contracts longitudinally and the term arises from its supposed similarity to the appearance of cat esophageal motion (although why barium studies were being performed in cats is still a mystery). The appearance has also been termed "oesophageal shiver", which may be a better name since it implies that the oesophagus is reacting to a semi-noxious stimulus. Thanks to Liz Chorney, MD for capturing this at just the right moment.

The main importance of recognizing this sign is twofold:

  • so as not to mistake it for something more serious, e.g.
    • linear scarring (fixed "stepladder" scarring) in chronic reflux oesophagitis
    • the thicker folds of eosinophilic oesophagitis
  • to recognize that it is very tightly correlated with gastro-oesophageal reflux (Ref. 2)
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Case information

rID: 45641
Published: 2nd Jun 2016
Last edited: 8th Aug 2017
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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