Information for Patients
Chest Injuries and Disorders
The chest is the part of the body between your neck and your abdomen. It includes the ribs and breastbone. Inside your chest are several organs, including the heart, lungs, and esophagus. The pleura, a large thin sheet of tissue, lines the inside of the chest cavity.
Chest injuries and disorders include
- Heart diseases
- Lung diseases and collapsed lung
- Pleural disorders
- Esophagus disorders
- Broken ribs
- Thoracic aortic aneurysms
- Disorders of the mediastinum, the space between the lungs, breastbone, and spine
The esophagus is the muscular tube that carries food and liquids from your mouth to the stomach. You may not be aware of your esophagus until you swallow something too large, too hot, or too cold. You may also notice it when something is wrong. You may feel pain or have trouble swallowing.
The most common problem with the esophagus is GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). With GERD, a muscle at the end of your esophagus does not close properly. This allows stomach contents to leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus and irritate it. Over time, GERD can cause damage to the esophagus.
Other problems include heartburn, cancer, and eosinophilic esophagitis. Doctors may use various tests to make a diagnosis. These include imaging tests, an upper endoscopy, and a biopsy.
Treatment depends on the problem. Some problems get better with over-the-counter medicines or changes in diet. Others may need prescription medicines or surgery.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases