Lichen planus with oesophageal involvement. A case report and review of the literature

Digestion. 2002;65(3):184-9. doi: 10.1159/000064939.


Background: Lichen planus is a common mucocutaneous disease of unknown aetiology. Oral disease affecting the mouth and the pharynx occurs in 30-70% of the cases. Oesophageal disease is considered to be extremely rare. The diagnosis of oesophageal involvement is often not made until complications occur.

Case report: A 56-year-old woman with oral and genital erosive lichen planus for more than 4 years complained of odynophagia and dysphagia. Episodes of oesophageal bolus obstruction started 2 months earlier. Upper endoscopy revealed a high-grade concentric stenosis at 21-24 cm from the incisors. Biopsy specimens taken after bougienage showed a squamous epithelium with dense leukocyte infiltration and Civatte bodies. The bougienage led to complete relief, but due to recurrent symptomatic stenosis, endoscopic dilatation had to be performed another four times within 5 years of follow-up. Immunosuppressive therapy with systemic and local steroid application did not prevent recurrent stenosis.

Conclusions: Patients with lichen planus should be evaluated for gastrointestinal symptoms because oesophageal involvement is a rare but severe complication leading to inflammatory stenosis. The benefit of immunosuppressive therapy in the prevention of recurrent stenosis is not established. A review of all reported cases is done with particular regard to therapy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dilatation
  • Esophageal Stenosis / etiology*
  • Esophageal Stenosis / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Lichen Planus, Oral / complications
  • Lichen Planus, Oral / epidemiology*
  • Lichen Planus, Oral / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Prednisolone