Ingestion of Caustic Substances by Adults

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Caustic products are responsible for the most serious cases of poisoning, which are always emergency cases. In this paper, we review demographic features and endoscopic results of the patients admitted to a university emergency department with a history of caustic substance ingestion between January 2000 and June 2003. Thirty-seven patients were included in this study. Twenty-one of the patients were female and 16 were male. The mean age of the patients was 30.9 ± 14.7 years. The agents included sodium hypochlorite in 24 patients and hydrochloric acid in 13 patients. All the patients ingested these agents orally. The mean interval time of admission to emergency department after ingestion of caustic agent was 5.4 ± 5.6 hours. Endoscopy was attempted in 37 patients. Endoscopic results were as follows: grade 0 in 8 (21.6%) patients, grade 1 in 17 (45.9%) patients, grade 2a in 5 (13.5%) patients, and grade 2b in 7 (18.9%) patients. We believe that early signs and symptoms after caustic substance ingestion are not consistent with the extent of damage, and endoscopy is the only reliable method to assess injury. It is important that efforts should be made to educate the public about the dangers of caustic substances so that their threat may be diminished.

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