Paediatric eosinophilic oesophagitis: towards early diagnosis and best treatment

P De Angelis, J E Markowitz, F Torroni, T Caldaro, A Pane, G Morino, R Sforza Wietrzykowska, G Federici di Abriola, A Ponticelli, L Dall'Oglio
Digestive and Liver Disease 2006, 38 (4): 245-51

UNLABELLED: Eosinophilic oesophagitis is an emerging disease, well known also in paediatric age, probably caused by both IgE and non-IgE mediated food allergies, diagnosed by upper endoscopy with biopsy. The most severe complication is oesophageal stenosis. The identification of the offending allergens is often difficult; therapy is focused to eliminate the supposed antigenic stimulus, to control the acute symptoms and to induce long-term remission.

AIM: We report the clinical outcome and the typical endoscopic findings of children and adolescents affected by eosinophilic oesophagitis, referring a proposal of diagnostic and treatment protocol.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Twelve patients, affected by eosinophilic oesophagitis with a histological diagnosis, underwent radiographic upper gastro-intestinal series, 24 h pH-probe and standardised allergic testing; they were treated with steroids (oral prednisone and swallowed aerosolised fluticasone) and elimination diet. Dilations were performed when eosinophilic oesophagitis was not yet diagnosed, or in patients resistant to conventional treatment.

RESULTS: Two patients were lost to follow up (mean follow up: 1 year 11 months); seven patients have no symptoms and normal histology, five of them on restricted diet (without cow's milk protein) and two patients on elemental diet (amino acid formula). In two patients (no allergens identified), mild dysphagia and eosinophilic infiltration persist; one patients underwent Nissen fundoplication for Barrett's oesophagus: he has no symptoms and normal oesophagus, on restricted diet (without cow's milk/eggs protein and wheat).

CONCLUSION: The recognition of typical endoscopic picture with careful biopsies extended to the whole oesophagus, even in emergency, could more quickly lead to the correct diagnosis and avoid severe complications of eosinophilic oesophagitis in children, as stricture and failure to growth. Elimination diet is the key of resolution when the allergens are identified. A great challenge remains the relation between gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and eosinophilic oesophagitis, which should however be explained.

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