by Jason Wasserman MD PhD FRCPC
June 5, 2022
Gastric heterotopia is a term used to describe the presence of normal-appearing gastric (stomach) tissue in an organ other than the stomach. It is a non-cancerous change. Gastric heterotopia is commonly seen in the esophagus and small intestine (particularly the duodenum) where it can appear as a polyp or a mass on imaging studies such as endoscopy, CT scan, or MRI. In the esophagus, gastric heterotopia can look similar to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus.
Gastric heterotopia is believed to be a congenital abnormality which means it develops before birth. In most cases the cause is unknown.
The symptoms of gastric heterotopia depend on the location and size of the tissue. A small area of gastric heterotopia normally does not cause any symptoms and the tissue is discovered incidentally when imaging such as an upper endoscopy is performed for another reason. However, large areas can partially block the esophagus or small bowel and this can result in pain, bloating, and in rare cases, small bowel obstruction.