Variations in presentations of esophageal involvement in lichen planus

David A. Katzka, Thomas C. Smyrk, Alison J. Bruce, Yvonne Romero, Jeffrey A. Alexander, Joseph A. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Lichen planus is a relatively uncommon, presumed autoimmune disease that affects middle-aged patients and is manifested in the skin, nails, and mucous membranes. Reports of esophageal involvement have been rare, despite the classification of the esophagus as a mucous membrane. Methods: Assuming esophageal involvement might not be as rare as expected, we reviewed the Mayo Clinic Pathology Database for all cases from 2000 to the present. Results: Twenty-seven cases were identified, with a mean age of 64 years; 25 were women. Patients presenting with esophageal lichen planus as the initial manifestation and those with a diagnosis of lichen planus involving other sites were equal in number. Many patients had received multiple dilations and reflux treatments before diagnosis. All patients presented with dysphagia. Endoscopy and radiology studies demonstrated a wide range of abnormalities, including strictures of varying length and location, small-caliber esophagus, and a mucosal appearance of sloughing, white discoloration, erythema, thickening, and superficial ulceration. Treatment regimens varied markedly, with some patients responding to topical or systemic corticosteroids. Conclusions: Esophageal lichen planus is rare but probably more common than previously suspected. It presents with a wide range of endoscopic signs and is commonly the presenting sign of lichen planus. In evaluating middle-aged patients with strictures, particularly proximal esophageal strictures in women, physicians should consider a diagnosis of lichen planus even in the absence of extraesophageal manifestations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)777-782
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010


  • Dysphagia
  • Endoscopy
  • Esophagography
  • Stricture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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