The results of caustic ingestions

Hepatogastroenterology. 2004 Sep-Oct;51(59):1397-400.


Background/aims: The ingestion of caustic substances is a common condition, which may result in serious injuries of the upper gastrointestinal system. The purpose of this study is to assess the outcomes of patients who had a history of the ingestion of caustic substances.

Methodology: Between January 1995 and May 2002, 53 patients with clinical and/or endoscopic signs of caustic agents injury admitted to the Emergency Surgery Service of University of Istanbul, Istanbul Medical School, were retrospectively evaluated.

Results: The group consisted of 29 females and 24 males with a mean age of 33 years (range 15 to 77). Caustic ingestion was accidental in 31 (59%) and suicidal in 22 (41%). Twenty-five (47%) patients had history of acid ingestions, 21 (40%) alkaline and 7 (12%) unknown agents. The findings of upper gastrointestinal tract endoscopy in 37 patients were as follows: i) fourteen patients had Grade I esophagitis, ii) fourteen patients had Grade II esophagitis; four with gastric mucosal burn, three with gastric and duodenal mucosal burn, five with pharyngeal mucosal burns, iii) two patients had gastric and duodenal mucosal burns, iv) four patients had gastric mucosal burn, vi) three patients had esophageal, gastric and duodenal mucosal burn. Eight patients (15%) with signs of acute abdomen underwent urgent surgery (six of these cases were acid ingestions and seven were suicidal ingestions); four of these patients with esophageal necrosis and gastric perforation, two with esophageal, gastric, duodenal and jejunal necrosis, one with local necrosis in the gastric fundus, and one had normal findings at laparotomy. The mean follow-up period was 11.6 months (range 1 to 42 months). During the follow-up one patient presented with pyloric stenosis, which required surgery. The mortality rate was 11%.

Conclusions: Suicidal caustic ingestion and acid ingestion seem to cause more severe injuries. Early admission to the hospital with clinical and endoscopic evaluation and early surgery when required may reduce morbidity and mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Burns, Chemical / mortality
  • Burns, Chemical / surgery*
  • Caustics / toxicity*
  • Duodenum / injuries*
  • Duodenum / surgery
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal
  • Esophagus / injuries*
  • Esophagus / surgery
  • Female
  • Gastric Mucosa / injuries*
  • Gastric Mucosa / surgery
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / injuries*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / surgery
  • Jejunum / injuries
  • Jejunum / pathology
  • Jejunum / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Necrosis
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality
  • Postoperative Complications / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Suicide, Attempted
  • Survival Rate


  • Caustics