caustic stricture (oesophagus)

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Caustic stricture of the oesophagus follows accidental or suicidal ingestion of strong acids or alkalis e.g. bleach.

Children may accidently consume caustic chemicals and develop a stricture.

Burns of the mouth and pharynx occur in the acute phase. The caustic substances cause a coagulative necrosis of the oesophageal mucosa that eventually penetrates into the muscular layers. Healing is slow and marked by severe granulation and scarring.

The mid- and lower oesophagus are the usual sites of caustic strictures. At these points the oesophagus is crossed by the aortic arch and the cardiac sphincter and these sites are thus sites of temporary hold-up of the caustic material.

Last reviewed 01/2018

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