Prevalence of Eosinophilic Esophagitis in Adults With Food Bolus Obstruction of the Esophagus

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Abstract

Background and Goals

Acute food bolus impaction is a common emergency in gastrointestinal practice. Management previously used the endoscope with an overtube to allow retrieval of the bolus per os. The push technique using air insufflation and gentle pressure on the bolus provides an alternative approach. Esophageal mucosal biopsy at the time of the initial endoscopy has not been a part of traditional practice. In view of the increasing recognition of eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) as a cause of dysphagia and food bolus obstruction in adults the etiology needs to be reassessed.

Study

Forty-three consecutive adults presenting with acute dysphagia secondary to food bolus obstruction of the esophagus were studied. The bolus was advanced into the stomach with the push technique or removed per os with a retrieval net. Protocol biopsies from the proximal and distal esophagus were obtained in 29 patients. Biopsies were contraindicated or not obtained in the remainder.

Results

Forty-one patients were successfully treated at endoscopy. Two subjects with a food bolus impacted at the crico-pharyngeal region required general anesthesia with endotracheal intubation for safe removal. Of 29 patients biopsied, 15 had peptic esophageal stricture as the cause. Fourteen patients (all males, mean age 32 y, range 19 to 62 y) had EE identified histologically. This represents 50% of those biopsied. Patients with EE had typical endoscopic features of linear furrows, mucosal rings, or narrow bore esophagus. Most had prior episodes of food bolus obstruction.

Conclusions

Food bolus obstruction can be safely managed by the push technique. EE is an important cause of food bolus obstruction that can be suspected on history and endoscopic appearance and confirmed on histology.

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