Distinguishing eosinophilic esophagitis in pediatric patients: clinical, endoscopic, and histologic features of an emerging disorder

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2007 Mar;41(3):252-6. doi: 10.1097/01.mcg.0000212639.52359.f1.


Goals: To determine the clinical, endoscopic, and histologic criteria that distinguish children with eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) from those with non-EE diagnoses.

Background: EE is a disease of escalating incidence. Distinguishing children with EE from those with non-EE diagnosis can be difficult before endoscopy.

Study: A retrospective case-control study was performed for children with any degree of esophageal eosinophilic inflammation who underwent esophageal biopsy at Children's Hospital San Diego from January 1998 to December 2002. A database containing children who met histologic criteria for EE and an equivalent number of children who had milder esophageal eosinophilia (non-EE patients) was created to compare the 2 groups.

Results: The number of EE cases increased from 15 in 1998 to 35 in 2002. EE patients were predominantly school-aged boys; 5 of 102 were suspected to have EE before biopsy. Although EE and non-EE patients complained of vomiting and abdominal pain at equivalent rates, EE patients were 3 times more likely to complain of dysphagia [odds ratio (OR)=3.11, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.55-6.65] and twice as likely to have stricture formation (OR=2.43, 95% CI 0.72-11.75). On endoscopy, patients with EE were 19-times more likely than non-EE patients to have endoscopic abnormalities (OR=19, 95% CI 9.0-45.88). Histologically, EE patients were more likely to have basal zone hyperplasia and degranulated eosinophils (OR=45 and 157, respectively).

Conclusions: We demonstrate that school-aged children, particularly boys, who complain of dysphagia should raise the index of suspicion for EE. We also suggest that EE-associated strictures are more common than peptic strictures in children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biopsy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Eosinophilia / diagnosis*
  • Esophageal Stenosis / etiology
  • Esophagitis / diagnosis*
  • Esophagitis / immunology
  • Esophagitis / pathology
  • Esophagoscopy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies