Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy findings in patients with long-standing bulimia nervosa

Gastrointest Endosc. 1989 Nov-Dec;35(6):516-8. doi: 10.1016/s0016-5107(89)72901-1.


Bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder now recognized with increasing frequency, is receiving growing attention because of purported complications. Recent claims of a high frequency of erosions, ulceration, and bleeding in the esophagus, ascribed to repeated, self-induced vomiting, prompted us to investigate by endoscopy the upper gastrointestinal mucosa in 37 consecutive patients with long-standing bulimia nervosa. The endoscopic appearance of esophageal and gastric mucosa was normal in 23 patients. Signs of mild esophagitis observed in eight patients were not related to the duration or severity of bulimic behavior or to symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux; two of these eight patients had sliding hiatal hernias. The remaining six patients were found to have superficial mucosal erythema in the stomach or duodenum, but none showed actual erosions, ulcers, or bleeding. Our observations suggest that, in contrast to reports by others, mucosal injury consequent to chronic, self-induced vomiting in patients with bulimia nervosa is relatively infrequent and limited.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bulimia / complications*
  • Bulimia / pathology
  • Esophagitis, Peptic / pathology*
  • Esophagoscopy*
  • Esophagus / pathology
  • Female
  • Gastric Mucosa / pathology
  • Gastritis / pathology*
  • Gastroscopy*
  • Humans
  • Male