Salicylic acid ingestion leading to esophageal stricture

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2010 Feb;26(2):146-8. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e3181d018bc.


Accidental ingestion of caustic substances (acid and alkali) occurs more frequently in children than in adults. The subsequent injury varies from minimal to severe, with perforation and even death as potential complications. Several factors have been shown to mediate the severity of injury, including the pH, concentration and physical state of the ingested substance, tissue contact time, and quantity (volume) of the ingested material. Liquids with a pH of less than 2 (acidic) or a pH of greater than 12 (alkali) are considered to be extremely corrosive and hold the greatest risk for injury. Esophageal injury after caustic ingestion is endoscopically graded with a score of 0 for no injury to IIIb for significant circumferential injury with ulcers and necrosis. Ingestion of either a strong alkali or acid has been documented to result in esophageal necrosis and ulcers (grade IIIb). Alkali ingestions occur more frequently because of their presence in daily life (detergents, degreasers) and therefore have more reports of injury. Despite more than 8200 documented cases of topical salicylic acid ingestions annually in US children younger than 19 years, there are no reported cases of salicylic acid resulting in gastrointestinal pathology. We report 2 cases of salicylic acid ingestion resulting in esophageal strictures. Both patients had more significant injury than anticipated given their initial clinical presentations. Given our recent experience, we recommend close follow-up and evaluation for strictures in patients with exposure to salicylic acid.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Burns, Chemical / diagnosis
  • Burns, Chemical / epidemiology
  • Burns, Chemical / etiology*
  • Catheterization
  • Caustics / poisoning*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Colloids
  • Deglutition Disorders / chemically induced
  • Dermatologic Agents / poisoning*
  • Disease Progression
  • Emergencies
  • Enteral Nutrition
  • Esophageal Perforation / etiology
  • Esophageal Stenosis / chemically induced*
  • Esophageal Stenosis / diagnosis
  • Esophageal Stenosis / drug therapy
  • Esophageal Stenosis / therapy
  • Esophagoscopy
  • Gastrostomy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Injections, Intralesional
  • Male
  • Poisoning / epidemiology
  • Salicylic Acid / poisoning*
  • Triamcinolone / administration & dosage
  • Triamcinolone / therapeutic use
  • Vomiting / chemically induced


  • Caustics
  • Colloids
  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Triamcinolone
  • Salicylic Acid