Esophageal Eosinophilia In Children With Dysphagia

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Children occasionally have dysphagia in the absence of an apparent primary cause. Esophageal eosinophilia is sometimes seen in these patients at the time of upper endoscopy but its significance is not clear. Although eosinophilia is regarded by some as a histologic hallmark of childhood reflux esophagitis, it may in fact signal a primary eosinophilic esophagitis in children with dysphagia. Our aim was to evaluate esophagitis, acid reflux determined by pH probe, and esophageal eosinophilia in children with the primary complaint of dysphagia.


A retrospective study was performed in 42 children, admitted for investigation of dysphagia, in whom no primary cause could be found. Twenty-one children (mean age ± SD, 10.1 ± 4.0 years) had esophageal eosinophilia and 21 children (8.3 ± 4.7 years) did not. Clinical, endoscopic, manometric and esophageal pH parameters in these two groups were compared.


Patients with esophageal eosinophilia were more often male (p<0.01) with a history of allergy (p<0.001) and food bolus obstruction (p<0.05) requiring endoscopic removal. Their esophageal mucosa appeared wrinkled and thickened at endoscopy with basal cell proliferation, and large numbers of eosinophils in esophageal mucosal biopsies. Continuous esophageal pH records and motility studies, when obtained, were similar in both groups and were within normal values.


Children with dysphagia who have esophageal eosinophilia are unlikely to have pathologic gastroesophageal reflux.

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