Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology
Home About us Instructions Submission Subscribe Advertise Contact Login    Print this page  Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size 
Users Online: 1156 

CASE REPORT Table of Contents   
Year : 2008  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 83-84
Ectopic sebaceous glands in the esophagus: A case report and review of literature

1 Department of Pathology, Sri R.L. Jalappa Hospital and Research Centre, Tamaka, Kolar-563 101, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Medicine, Sri R.L. Jalappa Hospital and Research Centre, Tamaka, Kolar-563 101, Karnataka, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Submission11-Jun-2007
Date of Acceptance09-Oct-2007


Ectopic sebaceous glands occur rarely in the esophagus. A 65-year-old man presented with a history of discomfort during swallowing since the last 4 months. On upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, multiple wart-like grayish-yellow projections were detected and two of them were biopsied. Microscopically, they proved to be sebaceous glands in the esophagus. Histogenesis of this rare lesion is discussed in this case report.

Keywords: Esophagus, sebaceous glands

How to cite this article:
Bhat RV, Ramaswamy RR, Yelagondahally LC. Ectopic sebaceous glands in the esophagus: A case report and review of literature. Saudi J Gastroenterol 2008;14:83-4

How to cite this URL:
Bhat RV, Ramaswamy RR, Yelagondahally LC. Ectopic sebaceous glands in the esophagus: A case report and review of literature. Saudi J Gastroenterol [serial online] 2008 [cited 2022 Jan 18];14:83-4. Available from:

Sebaceous glands are derived from the ectoderm. Ectopic sebaceous glands have been reported in various sites such as lips and mouth (in Fordyce's disease) eyes, orbits, palms and soles, salivary glands, tongue and larynx. In esophagus, which is an endodermally derived organ, the presence of ectopic sebaceous glands is rare. [1] This condition was described in only 19 living individuals in previous studies. [2],[3],[4]

   Case Report Top

A 65-year-old man presented with a history of discomfort during swallowing since the last 4 months. There was no history of vomiting or hematemesis and weight loss. The patient was not a chronic smoker or an alcoholic. No history of chronic tobacco chewing was reported. General physical examination was unremarkable. Respiratory and cardiovascular systems were normal. Clinically, carcinoma of esophagus was suspected, and upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy was performed.

Endoscopy findings

On upper GI video endoscopy, multiple (nearly 20) grayish-yellow nodular projections of 2-4 mm diameter were noticed in the middle and lower esophagus. Endoscopy also revealed features of mild chronic gastritis. Endoscopic diagnosis of papillomata was suggested; punch biopsy from two of the yellowish projections was performed and sent for histopathological examination.

Histopathological examination

Microscopically, the non-keratinized stratified squamous epithelial lining showed minimal hyperplasia. The subepithelial area revealed lobulated sebaceous glands, deep in lamina propria. Each lobule consisted of polygonal cells with small nuclei and abundant clear cytoplasm [Figure - 1]. No hair follicle was observed.

Mild lymphocytic infiltration was seen in the vicinity of the sebaceous glands. No histological features suggestive of reflux or infectious esophagitis were noted. Histological diagnosis of ectopic sebaceous glands in the esophagus was made.

The patient was treated symptomatically with antacids and omeprazole for one month, and he became symptom free and remained so at two years of follow up.

   Discussion Top

The presence of ectopic sebaceous glands was first described in lips and oral cavity by Fordyce in1896 (the condition was called Fordyce's disease). Since then, it has been described in various other sites, such as eyes and orbits, palms and soles, parotid glands, and larynx.

However, in 1962, De La Pava and Pickren first reported the presence of sebaceous glands in an endodermally derived organ, the esophagus. [1] The authors reported such occurrences in 4 of the 200 unselected cadavers during an autopsy study.

Ectopic sebaceous glands in esophagus were first observed during endoscopy by Ramakrishnan and Brinker [5] in 1978 in a 44-year-old nonsmoker. The lesions may be single or multiple, [6] sometimes more than hundred. [2],[3] Although no specific clinical symptoms attributable to esophageal sebaceous glands have been identified, some patients may experience symptoms such as heartburn and discomfort during swallowing. [2]


The most interesting aspect of this condition is histogenesis, which is not completely clear. Several hypotheses have been postulated. [4]

  1. Metaplasia theory: This is favored by the occurrence of this condition in the elderly, and not in children, and because the arrangement of these glands are similar to that of esophageal submucosal glands.
  2. Heterotopia theory (embryological misplacement): This theory is not supported by endoscopic studies and autopsy studies conducted on infants and children. [2]

There were no reports on any significant complications resulting from this condition. Endoscopic follow-up in such cases after a period of 8 months to 5 years showed no significant variation in the number or size of these lesions. [7] Moreover, malignant tumors arising from such ectopic sebaceous glands have never been reported.

Most of these lesions appear to be harmless, and only symptomatic treatment or anti-reflux treatment is advised. [2] Ectopic sebaceous glands should be differentiated from other submucosal tumors, and proliferative mucosal lesions such as granular cell tumor, leiomyoma and papilloma. In our case, microscopic features were very characteristic of sebaceous glands.

   Conclusion Top

Ectopic sebaceous glands in esophagus are a very rare occurrence. It probably represents a metaplastic change in the esophageal submucosal glands. Here, we reported this rare occurrence in a 65-year-old male.

   Acknowledgment Top

We are thankful to the Medical Superintendent of Sri R.L. Jalappa Hospital, Kolar, for giving permission to publish this article.

   References Top

1.De La Pava S, Pickren JW. Ectopic sebaceous glands in the oesophagus. Arch Pathol 1962;73:397-9.  Back to cited text no. 1  [PUBMED]  
2.Bertoni G, Sassatelli R, Nigrisoli E, Conigliaro R, Bedogni G. Ectopic sebaceous glands in the oesophagus: Report of three new cases and review of literature. Am J Gastroenterol 1994;89:1884-7.  Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  
3.Hoshika K, Inoue S, Mizuno M, Iida M, Shimizu M. Endoscopic detection of ectopic multiple minute sebaceous glands in the esophagus: Report of a case and review of literature. Dig Dis Sci 1995;40:287-90.  Back to cited text no. 3  [PUBMED]  
4.Bae JY, Chon CY, Kim H. Sebaceous glands in the esophagus. J Kor Med Sci 1996;11:271-4.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Ramakrishnan T, Brinker JE. Ectopic sebaceous glands in the oesophagus. Gastrointest Endosc 1978;24:293-4.  Back to cited text no. 5  [PUBMED]  
6.Hoshihara Y, Hashimoto M, Yoshida Y, Hayakawa K, Fukuchi S, Unakami M. Ectopic sebaceous glands in esophagus: Report of two cases. Dig Endosc 1991;3:247-9.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Kumagai Y, Makuuchi H, Ohmori T, Mukai M. Four cases of ectopic sebaceous glands confirmed endoscopically in the oesophagus. Dig Endosc 1993;5:238-44.  Back to cited text no. 7    

Correspondence Address:
Ramachandra V Bhat
Department of Pathology, Sri R.L. Jalappa Hospital and Research Centre, Tamaka, Kolar - 563 101, Karnataka
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1319-3767.39624

Rights and Permissions


  [Figure - 1]

This article has been cited by
1 The clinical and endoscopic features of esophageal ectopic sebaceous glands
Hui-Fen Chen, Hsi-Chang Lee, Min-Kai Liao, Ting-An Chang, Chih-Lin Lin, Li-Ying Liao, Kuan-Yang Chen
Advances in Digestive Medicine. 2020; 7(4): 179
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Talgdrüsenheterotopie im Ösophagus
A.-C. Suttorp,M. Heike,M. Fähndrich,H. Reis,J. Lorenzen
Der Pathologe. 2013; 34(2): 162
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Heterotopic sebaceous glands in the esophagus: Case report with review of the literature [TalgdrĂĽsenheterotopie im Ă–sophagus: Fallbericht in Zusammenschau mit der Literatur]
Suttorp, A.-C. and Heike, M. and Fähndrich, M. and Reis, H. and Lorenzen, J.
Pathologe. 2013; 34(2): 162-164
4 An incidental finding of sebaceous glands in the uterine cervix: A probable metaplastic process [Achado incidental de glândula sebácea em colo uterino: Provavelmente um processo metaplásico]
Ogata, D.C. and Neto, E.P. and Perin, D.P. and May, B.M.
Jornal Brasileiro de Patologia e Medicina Laboratorial. 2012; 48(3): 221-222


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

    Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded464    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 4    

Recommend this journal