Updates on the evaluation and management of caustic exposures

Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2007 May;25(2):459-76; abstract x. doi: 10.1016/j.emc.2007.02.007.


In 2004, the American Association of Poison Control Centers' Toxic Exposure Surveillance System documented over 200,000 exposures to caustic substances, in both household and industrial products. Although the most commonly affected body areas are the face, eyes, and extremities, all reported fatalities were as a result of ingestion. Little controversy exists in patient management following dermal or ocular caustic exposure. Immediate water irrigation of the site of caustic exposure, followed by routine burn care, analgesia, intravenous fluids, and electrolyte replacement are standards of care. In this manuscript, a thorough review of the management of gastrointestinal caustic exposure is explored, not only because of the high rates of morbidity and mortality associated with these exposures, but also because there remains controversy regarding appropriate management of such exposures. Hydrofluoric acid, a weak acid in its aqueous form, requires special consideration and specific antidotes, and as such, is addressed separately.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Burns, Chemical / classification
  • Burns, Chemical / physiopathology*
  • Burns, Chemical / therapy
  • Caustics / toxicity*
  • Esophagus / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration


  • Caustics