Esophageal Food Impaction: A Retrospective Chart Review

Dhineshreddy Gurala, Abhishek Polavarapu, Jobin Philipose, Shivantha Amarnath, Akshay Avula, Pretty Sara Idiculla, Seleshi Demissie, Vivek Gumaste


Background: Esophageal food impaction (EFI) is the third most common non-biliary emergency in gastroenterology, with an annual incidence rate of 13 episodes per 100,000 person-years and 1,500 deaths per year. Patients presenting with food impaction often have underlying esophageal pathology. We evaluated the possible risk factors for EFI in our study.

Methods: We performed a retrospective chart review of 455 patients at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) that presented with symptoms of food impaction from 1999 to 2017. We analyzed relevant clinical data such as age, risk factors, type of food bolus, location, administration of glucagon, endoscopic technique and complications.

Results: Overall, 174 patients had endoscopically confirmed EFI. The majority were males 102/174 (58.6%). Esophageal pathological findings included esophagitis in 58/174 (33.3%), strictures in 43/174 (24.7%), hiatal hernias in 29/174 (16.6%) and Schatzkis rings in 15/174 (8.6%). Thirty-two out of 174 (18.3%) had normal endoscopic findings. Diabetes mellitus (DM) was reported in 20/174 (11.4%) patients. The type of food impacted was mostly meat in 73/174 (41.9%) cases. The location of EFI was mainly in the lower one-third of the esophagus in 94/174 (54%). The endoscopic push technique was used in 95/174 (54.5%) patients and the pull technique in 83/174 (47.7%) cases. The endoscopic therapeutic intervention was successful as a first attempt in 165/175 (94.8%) patients. Complications were reported in only 5/174 (2.8%), and these mostly comprised of perforations and tears. Glucagon was given to 74/174 (42.5%) patients. The median door-to-scope time (time of presentation at the emergency department to endoscopic intervention) was 7 h (range 1.5 - 24 h) in patients who had received glucagon as opposed to 7 h (range 1 - 24 h) in patients who did not receive it.

Conclusion: EFI is more common in males. Esophageal strictures and hiatal hernias were the most common pathologies found in endoscopy. Esophagitis was evident in 33.3% of patients, but if it was the cause or consequence of EFI is not clearly understood. DM was associated with food impaction in only 11.4% of patients, but more studies are needed to determine if DM has a stronger association with EFI. The door-to-scope time was shorter in patients who had received glucagon. Endoscopy is a safe and effective therapeutic intervention for EFI, and complications reported were minimal.

Gastroenterol Res. 2021;14(3):173-178


Esophageal disorders; Upper endoscopy; Food impaction; Dysphagia; Management

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