Esophagitis dissecans superficialis ("sloughing esophagitis"): a clinicopathologic study of 12 cases

Am J Surg Pathol. 2009 Dec;33(12):1789-94. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0b013e3181b7ce21.


Esophagitis dissecans superficialis (EDS) is a term applied to a rare endoscopic finding characterized by sloughing of large fragments of the esophageal squamous mucosa that may be coughed up or vomited. Although EDS has been reported in association with certain medications and esophageal strictures, most cases remain unexplained and the histopathologic features of EDS are inadequately described. We undertook this study to define useful diagnostic criteria based on the examination of a series of well-characterized cases of EDS. To identify patients with EDS, we searched our endoscopy and pathology databases, reviewed the esophageal biopsy specimens from candidate cases, and correlated them with pertinent clinical information. Twelve patients (11 men and 1 woman) had endoscopic and histologic findings of EDS and 9 had the histologic features without the endoscopic correlates. Biopsies from confirmed EDS patients showed sloughing and flaking of superficial squamous epithelium with occasional bullous separation of the layers, parakeratosis, and varying degrees of acute or chronic inflammation. Fungal elements were identified in 3 patients, but were not associated with acute inflammation. None of the EDS patients were on bisphosphonate therapy or had bullous skin disorders. Follow-up endoscopy in 5 patients showed complete resolution of the esophageal abnormalities in 4 and mild esophagitis in one. In spite of its sometimes, dramatic presentation, EDS is a benign condition that resolves without lasting esophageal pathology. Although an association with medications, skin conditions, heavy smoking, and physical trauma has been reported, the pathogenesis of EDS remains unexplained.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Biopsy
  • Esophageal Stenosis / etiology
  • Esophageal Stenosis / pathology
  • Esophagitis / drug therapy
  • Esophagitis / etiology
  • Esophagitis / pathology*
  • Esophagoscopy
  • Esophagus / drug effects
  • Esophagus / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucous Membrane / pathology
  • Necrosis
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors