Esophageal Leiomyoma



Benign tumors of the esophagus are rare lesions that constitute less than 1% of esophageal neoplasms. Nearly two thirds of benign esophageal tumors are leiomyomas; the others mostly are polyps and cysts. Thus, leiomyomas are the most common benign tumors of the esophagus.[1]


Leiomyomas represent a hyperproliferation of interlacing bundles of smooth muscle cells that are well-demarcated by adjacent tissue or by a smooth connective tissue capsule. They usually arise as intramural growths, most commonly along the distal two thirds of the esophagus. They are multiple in approximately 5% of patients.

The majority of leiomyomas have been discovered incidentally during evaluation for dysphagia or during autopsy. Bleeding rarely occurs in cases of benign disease but typically is observed with leiomyosarcoma, the malignant counterpart of this tumor. The potential for malignant degeneration of leiomyomas is extremely small. In the distal esophagus, leiomyomas may reach large proportions and may encroach on the cardia of the stomach.




Esophageal leiomyomas comprise less than 0.6% of all esophageal neoplasms, both in the United States and worldwide.


No known differences


No known differences


Typically occur in individuals aged 20-50 years



Imaging Studies


Histologic Findings

Histologically, the tumors are comprised of bundles of interlacing smooth muscle cells, well-demarcated by adjacent tissue or by a definitive connective tissue capsule. They are composed of fascicles of spindle cells that tend to intersect with each other at varying angles. The tumor cells have blunt-ended elongated nuclei and show minimal atypia with few mitotic figures.

Surgical Care

Surgical excision is recommended for symptomatic leiomyomas and those greater than 5 cm. Asymptomatic or smaller lesions should be followed periodically with barium swallow.


Thoracic surgeon


Following complete surgical resection, no recurrence has ever been reported.


Sandeep Mukherjee, MB, BCh, MPH, FRCPC, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Nebraska Medical Center; Consulting Staff, Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Veteran Affairs Medical Center

Disclosure: Merck Honoraria Speaking and teaching; Ikaria Pharmaceuticals Honoraria Board membership


Anastasios K Konstantakos, MD, Clinical Associate Surgeon, Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Billings Clinic

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editors

Maurice A Cerulli, MD, FACP, FACG, FASGE, AGAF, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University; Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Hofstra Medical School

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD, Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Medscape Salary Employment

Simmy Bank, MD, Chair, Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Long Island Jewish Hospital, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Alex J Mechaber, MD, FACP, Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Julian Katz, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


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