by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(Esophageal Food Bolus Obstruction)


Steakhouse syndrome is when a mass of food gets stuck on the way to the stomach. It gets stuck in the tube that connects the mouth and stomach.

The Esophagus
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Steakhouse syndrome can happen when a large amount of food is swallowed. It is more common with more solid foods like meat.

Risk Factors

This is more common in older people. Things that can raise the risk of steakhouse syndrome are:


A person with this may have:

  • Chest pain
  • Problems swallowing
  • Drooling
  • Coughing, gagging, choking


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Tests may be done if it keeps happening with no clear cause. Tests may include:


The food may move down to the stomach on its own. To help it move the doctor may advise:

  • Drinking a carbonated beverage such as soda.
  • An injection of glucagon. It will ease pressure in the throat and may allow food to pass.

An endoscopy may be done if the food does not pass. A scope will be passed through the mouth and down the throat. Small tools will be passed down the tube to remove the food or push it down to the stomach.

The doctor will look for possible reasons the food was blocked. It may help to prevent another event.


To help reduce the risk of steakhouse syndrome:

  • Chew slowly and until the food is small enough to safely swallow.
  • Follow any treatment plan given for health issues in the throat or stomach.


American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery 

American College of Gastroenterology 


Canadian Association of Gastroenterology 

Canadian Society of Otolaryngology 


D Leopard, S Fishpool, S Winter. The management of oesophageal soft food bolus obstruction: a systematic review. Ann R Coll Surg Engl 2011; 93: 441.

Esophageal foreign body removal. EBSCO Health Dynamed website. Available at: Updated September 14, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2020.

Ginsberg GG. Food bolus impaction. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2011;3 (2): 85-6.

Ko HH, Enns R. Review of food bolus management. Can J Gastroenterol. 2008;22(10):805–808. Full text at:

Thimmapuram J. Oosterveen S. Grim R. Thimmapuram J. Oosterveen S. Grim R. Use of glucagon in relieving esophageal food bolus impaction in the era of eosinophilic esophageal infiltration. Dysphagia 2013, 28:212-6.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
  • Review Date: 03/2022
  • Update Date: 05/17/2022