Esophageal perforation

Alternative Names

Perforation of the esophagus

Definition of Esophageal perforation

An esophageal perforation is a hole in the esophagus, the tube through which food passes from the mouth to the stomach.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

A perforation is a hole through which the contents of the esophagus can pass into the mediastinum, the surrounding area in the chest. This often results in infection of the mediastinum (mediastinitis).

Symptoms

The main symptom is pain at first.

Signs and tests

Signs include:

Treatment

Many patients need early surgery, depending on the location and size of the perforation. If surgery is done, it is best to have it within 24 hours of when the perforation occurred.

Expectations (prognosis)

The condition can progress to shock — even death — if untreated.

Review

George F. Lonstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 12/13/2010

Digestive system
Digestive system organs

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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