, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 207-210
Date: 09 Apr 2004

Corrosive esophagitis in children

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We evaluated the outcome and optimal management of corrosive esophagitis in 24 children (male:female=8:16, mean age 5.0±5.4 years old, ranged from 15 months to 18 years of age) from January 1984 to July 2001. In 20 patients this was the result of accidental ingestion, 4 were suicide attempts and 15 patients (63%) were below 3 years of age. The ingested substances included alkali (n=17, 71%), acid (n=6, 25%), and neutral detergent (n=1, 4%). The “dumpling alkaline oil”, a traditional food additive used in Taiwan, was the most common culprit in this study. A total of 9 patients ingested the dumpling alkaline oils, which comprised 38% of the total 24 patients and 53% of the 17 alkaline ingestion accidents. Of the patients 21 (88%) suffered from esophageal injury, and 15 among these 21 patients developed esophageal strictures. Esophageal strictures occurred in all patients with second or third-degree burns. Of these 15 patients with esophageal strictures, 9 (60%) received endoscope-associated dilatation and 6 (40%) underwent an operation (esophagectomy and intestinal interposition). The 9 patients who did not develop esophageal strictures had good body weight gain without feeding difficulty (functionally normal recovery). On the other hand, among the 15 patients with esophageal strictures, 9 patients had functionally subnormal recovery and 6 patients had poor recovery with either frequent feeding difficulty or growth retardation. In conclusion, accidental ingestion of alkaline oil is the most common cause of corrosive esophagitis in Taiwan. The degree of burns correlated with stricture formation.