Plummer-Vinson syndrome is a condition that can occurs in people with long-term (chronic) iron deficiency anemia. People with this condition have problems swallowing due to small, thin growths of tissue that partially block the upper food pipe (esophagus).
The cause of Plummer-Vinson syndrome is unknown. Genetic factors and a lack of certain nutrients (nutritional deficiencies) may play a role. It is a rare disorder that can be linked to cancers of the esophagus and throat. It is more common in women.
You may develop skin and nail abnormalities that your doctor can see during an exam.
Taking iron supplements may improve the swallowing problems.
If supplements do not help, the web of tissue can be widened during upper endoscopy. This will allow normal swallowing and passage of food.
People with this condition generally respond to treatment.
Devices used to stretch the esophagus (dilators) may cause a tear, which leads to bleeding.
Plummer-Vinson syndrome has been linked to esophageal cancer.
Call your health care provider if:
Getting enough iron in your diet may prevent this disorder.
Paterson-Kelly syndrome; Sideropenic dysphagia; Esophageal web
Long JD, Orlando RC. Anatomy, histology, embryology, and developmental anomalies of the esophagus. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 41.
Updated by: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.
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