Management of Esophageal Perforation in Adults

Lileswar Kaman, Javid Iqbal, Byju Kundil, Rakesh Kochhar


Perforation of esophagus in the adult is a very morbid condition with high morbidity and mortality. The ideal treatment is controversial. The main causes for esophageal perforation in adults are iatrogenic, traumatic, spontaneous and foreign bodies. The morbidity and mortality rate is directly related to the delay in diagnosis and initiation of optimum treatment. The reported mortality from treated esophageal perforation is 10% to 25%, when therapy is initiated within 24 hours of perforation, but it could rise up to 40% to 60% when the treatment is delayed beyond 48 hours. Primary closure of the perforation site and wide drainage of the mediastinum is recommended if perforation is detected in less than 24 hours. Treatment option for delayed or missed rupture of esophagus is not very clear and is controversial. Recently a substantial number of patients with esophageal perforation are being managed by nonoperative measures. Patients with small perforations and minimal extraesophageal involvement may be better managed by nonoperative treatment Major prognostic factors determining mortality are the etiology and site of the injury, the presence of underlying esophageal pathology, the delay in diagnosis and the method of treatment. For optimum outcome for management of esophageal perforations in adults a multidisciplinary approach is needed.

Gastroenterol Res. 2010;3(6):235-244

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