Sudden death of an alcoholic elderly man with acute esophageal necrosis (black esophagus)

Forensic Sci Int. 2011 Oct 10;212(1-3):e15-7. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2011.05.024.


We report a fatal case of acute esophageal necrosis (black esophagus) in an elderly male with alcohol abuse who was found dead with coffee-ground vomiting. A postmortem examination revealed severe anemia and marked black coloring of the esophagus from the upper to the bottom end. This was accompanied by histologic evidence of extensive mucosal necrosis. Alcohol abuse and esophagitis-related vomiting were both considered to be factors that led to the acute fatal esophageal necrosis. The cause of death was undetermined. We discuss the possible role of acute esophageal necrosis in the cause of sudden death.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Autopsy
  • Death, Sudden / etiology
  • Death, Sudden / pathology*
  • Esophagitis / complications
  • Esophagitis / pathology*
  • Forensic Medicine*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Necrosis / complications
  • Necrosis / pathology