Esophageal perforations: a 15 year experience

Am J Surg. 1982 Apr;143(4):495-503. doi: 10.1016/0002-9610(82)90202-1.


A review of 44 patients with 50 esophageal perforations from 1966 through 1980 is presented. The age span was 15 months to 94 years and the male to female ratio was 1 to 1. Each case was studied with regard to presentation, etiology, treatment and complications. Twenty-two cases of esophageal perforation followed instrumentation, including 6 secondary to Mosher bag dilatation for achalasia. Of the remainder, seven patients had spontaneous perforation, five had external trauma, five had intraoperative injury, two had caustic ingestion, and one each had foreign body ingestion, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and an incarcerated paraesophageal hiatal hernia. Management was nonoperative in 12 patients, primary repair and drainage was performed in 23 patients, and 9 patients underwent drainage and diversion. This series plus 824 patients with esophageal perforation accumulated from a review of the literature emphasizes the importance of the influence of different methods of treatment and time lapse between occurrence and therapy. The type of perforation had no significance on this series. As a result of the experience gained from this series, a treatment protocol is proposed for the management of esophageal perforation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Debridement
  • Dilatation / adverse effects
  • Drainage
  • Endoscopy / adverse effects
  • Esophageal Perforation / etiology
  • Esophageal Perforation / mortality
  • Esophageal Perforation / surgery*
  • Esophagus / surgery
  • Female
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Gastrostomy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intraoperative Complications / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rupture, Spontaneous / complications
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / complications