Background and study aims: Acute necrotizing esophagitis is a rarely described entity. Its incidence has not yet been established, and its multifactorial etiology remains unknown. The aim of the present study was to establish the incidence, clinical presentation, endoscopic course, accompanying factors, and pathogenesis of the condition.
Patients and methods: A retrospective analysis of clinical, laboratory, endoscopic and histological data and the clinical course in 29 patients with acute necrotizing esophagitis was carried out over a 5-year period.
Results: Acute necrotizing esophagitis was observed in 29 of 10 295 upper gastrointestinal endoscopies (0.28 %) carried out during the 5-year period. The average age of the patients was 75.24 years (range 40 - 91), and they were predominantly male. Eighty-three percent of the patients had comorbid conditions. In all cases, acute necrotizing esophagitis became evident with upper gastrointestinal bleeding, without hemodynamic stabilization in the majority of cases (75.9 %). The lesions predominantly affected the lower two-thirds of the esophagus (59 %), and there were coexisting abnormal endoscopic findings in 83 % of cases. Empirical supportive therapy, including oral nutritional rest, omeprazole, sucralfate (15 cases) and broad-spectrum antibiotics (7 cases) was provided. The condition resolved in all patients. Ten patients in the group died of other causes (coexisting illnesses).
Conclusions: Acute necrotizing esophagitis was more commonly recognized than has previously been reported. It is a serious clinical entity that should be considered in the differential diagnosis of upper gastrointestinal bleeding, particularly in elderly patients. The prognosis depends more on the patient's advanced age and on comorbid illnesses than on the course of the esophageal lesions, which resolved in all patients in this series.