Acute esophageal injury and strictures following corrosive ingestions in a 27year cohort

Timothy Cowan, Robert Foster, Geoffrey K Isbister
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2017, 35 (3): 488-492

PURPOSE: We aimed to determine the incidence of esophageal strictures in corrosive ingestions and potential predictors of severe injury.

BASIC PROCEDURES: This was a retrospective cohort study of corrosive ingestions from a toxicology unit (1987-2013) with telephone follow-up at least 1 y post-ingestion. Clinical data and investigations were obtained from a toxicology admission database. The primary outcome was esophageal stricture. Other outcomes included in-hospital mortality, endoscopy grade and early complications.

MAIN FINDINGS: There were 89 corrosive ingestions; median age, 31 y [1-87 y; 46 females], including 13 strong alkalis (pH>12), 8 strong acids (pH<2), 29 domestic bleaches, 30 other domestic products, 6 non-domestic products and three unknown. Three patients died in hospital within 24 h (phenol, sodium azide, HCl). Two developed strictures (both strong alkalis): one had complete esophageal destruction; another developed a stricture after 25 d (inpatient grade 2A endoscopy). 24 patients were asymptomatic and discharged without complication. 65 patients were symptomatic (4 catastrophic injuries). 61 reported sore mouth/throat (50), abdominal pain (21), chest pain (17), dysphagia (13); 28 had an abnormal oropharyngeal examination. 25/61 symptomatic patients underwent inpatient endoscopy: normal (3), grade 1 (5), grade 2 (15) and grade 3 (2). Of 88 patients, 12 died (3 inpatients, 9 unrelated), 28 couldn't be contacted and 48 were contacted after 1.7-24 y, including two with strictures. Five couldn't be interviewed (normal endoscopy (1), no dysphagia (3) and stroke (1). 4/41 interviewed reported dysphagia but no objective evidence of stricture.

PRINCIPAL CONCLUSIONS: All inpatient deaths and severe complications were apparent within hours of ingestion, and occurred with highly corrosive substances. One delayed stricture occurred, not predicted by inpatient endoscopy.

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