Esophageal Rupture

Overview

The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth with the stomach. When a tear occurs in this tube, the condition is known as esophageal rupture. A rupture allows food or fluids to leak into the chest and cause severe lung problems.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of the condition include:

  • Mild to severe chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting, sometimes with blood in the vomit
  • Fast breathing
  • Fever

Causes and Risk Factors

Tubes or instruments placed into the esophagus during medical procedures (such as endoscopy) cause approximately half the cases of rupture. The chances of death are high when ruptures occur in this way. Ruptures may also be caused by:

  • Severe injury or trauma to the esophagus
  • Violent vomiting
  • Swallowing cleaning fluids, strong chemicals or a foreign object
  • Ulcers in the esophagus
  • Cancer of the esophagus
  • Lifting a heavy object
  • Straining during defecation

Diagnosis

Depending on the cause, the doctor may perform an esophagoscopy to reveal the location and size of the rupture.

Treatment

Ruptures must be cleaned and repaired immediately by a surgeon.

© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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