Eosinophilic esophagitis in adults: a systematic review

Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Feb;18(2):211-7. doi: 10.1097/00042737-200602000-00015.


Background/aims: Eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) is an increasingly recognized condition both in children and adults. The aim of the present study was to review the available evidence regarding EE in adults.

Methods: PubMed, MEDLINE and medical textbooks were searched in May-June 2005 for English-language articles published between January 1978 and June 2005 containing relevant terms. The abstracts of two major conferences from 2000 to June 2005 were also reviewed. The presence of more than 15 eosinophils per high power field on esophageal biopsies was required to establish the diagnosis.

Results: Twenty-four studies with 325 patients (male/female ratio: 3/1) were found that met the review criteria. Presenting symptoms included dysphagia (93%), food impaction (62%) and heartburn (23.6%). An allergic history and peripheral eosinophilia was noted in 51.6 and 30.8% of patients, respectively. Esophageal manometry presented evidence of a motility disorder in 40% of cases. Endoscopic findings included mucosal fragility/oedema, rings, strictures, whitish pinpoint exudates and small-calibre esophagus in 59.3, 49.2, 39.7, 15.7 and 5.3% of cases, respectively, whereas 8.8% of patients had a normal endoscopy. Bougienage was performed in 64 patients, with limited efficacy and an increased complication rate. The administration of corticosteroids resulted in symptomatic improvement in more than 95% of cases.

Conclusions: An allergic history and peripheral eosinophilia is less common in adults than among children with EE. An esophageal motility disorder should be a novel indication for biopsies in adults with long-lasting dysphagia. A trial with corticosteroids before bougienage may reduce active inflammation and the complication rate.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Eosinophilia / complications
  • Eosinophilia / diagnosis*
  • Eosinophilia / therapy
  • Esophagitis / complications
  • Esophagitis / diagnosis*
  • Esophagitis / therapy
  • Esophagoscopy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manometry / methods
  • Middle Aged