Gastric rupture after the Heimlich maneuver

J Trauma. 1996 Jan;40(1):159-60. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199601000-00036.


Since 1975, the Heimlich maneuver has been widely applied to relieve upper airway obstruction caused by aspirated material. Life-threatening complications have been documented following this simple procedure. We report two cases of gastric rupture after use of the Heimlich maneuver. Both patients experienced pulmonary and abdominal symptoms. The diagnosis was confirmed in each case by the demonstration of free intraperitoneal air on an upright chest roentgenogram. Full-thickness gastric rupture along the lesser curvature of the stomach was repaired in both patients; one patient died. Abdominal pain or persistent abdominal distention despite nasogastric suction after the Heimlich maneuver should prompt evaluation for possible gastric rupture.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Airway Obstruction / therapy*
  • Female
  • First Aid / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Radiography
  • Stomach / injuries*
  • Stomach Rupture / diagnostic imaging
  • Stomach Rupture / etiology*
  • Stomach Rupture / surgery