Ingestion of Caustic Substances: A 15-Year Experience

Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, Jerusalem, Israel
The Laryngoscope (Impact Factor: 2.14). 09/2006; 116(8):1422-6. DOI: 10.1097/01.mlg.0000225376.83670.4d
Source: PubMed


The objective of this study was to analyze the circumstance, demographic features, clinical findings, and complications of caustic ingestion in relation to the type and amount of caustic substance.
The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study in a tertiary medical center.
The authors reviewed medical records from 1988 to 2003 of patients with a history of caustic ingestion and clinical signs of injury to the aerodigestive tract. Parameters examined included age at presentation, gender, demographic status, nature of the caustic substance ingested, amount of substance, circumstance of the event, diagnostic tools, degree of injury, and anatomic distribution of the injury, early and late complications, and requirement for ventilatory support.
A total of 50 cases of caustic ingestion were identified (age range, 5 months-71 years). A biphasic distribution of the patients was noted; half were children under 5 years old and the remainder was adults. The most common caustic agent ingested was alkaline (42%) followed by acidic (32%) and chlorine bleach (26%). The most frequent cause for ingestion was accidental (67%) as opposed to attempt suicide (33%). All cases of attempted suicide occurred in adults. Most of them reported ingestion of large amounts of caustic substance. In the pediatric group, an association between the caustic agent and ethnicity was observed. Among Jewish children, alkaline cleaning agents were the most common cause (82%). Acetic acid was the most common substance ingested by the Arab children (100%). The findings of rigid esophagoscopy in 36 patients were as follows: first-degree esophageal injury in 16 (44%), second-degree in 6 (17%), third-degree in 7 (19%), fourth-degree in 6 (17%), and one (3%) was normal. Mucosal injury to the esophagus was worse in the acidic ingestion group as compared with the alkaline substance ingestion group with marginally statistically significant difference in the median degree of injury between the three types of ingested substances (P = .054). Mucosal injury to the esophagus was worse among patients who attempted suicide as compared with accidental ingestion with a statistically significant difference in the median degree of injury between the two reasons for ingestion (P = .002).
Severity of injury from caustic ingestion damages depend on the type of ingested substance, which varies depending on ethnicity. Ingestion of caustic agents by children involves specific substances according to the season, cultural and religious festivals, and ethnicity. The majority of adult cases are intentional with more serious injuries and a higher rate of complications. In our series, ingestion of acidic substances and ingestion associated with suicide attempt had the most severe consequences.

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    • "Most of the adults deliberately took corrosives with the intent of committing suicide or deliberate self harm as the agents were readily available as reported in previous literature [12, 14, 16]. None or ineffective regulation of potentially harmful chemical agents makes the environment unsafe and constitutes substantial risk to both children and adults [6]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Potentially catastrophic presentations and lifelong complications resulting from corrosive ingestions in humans is one of the most challenging situations encountered in clinical medical practice. This study reviewed pattern, mechanisms and associated socio-medical challenges with ingestion of corrosive agents as seen in a tertiary health institution in South-western Nigeria. A retrospective review of all patients that were managed for corrosive ingestion at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria, over a seven year period. A total of 28 patients M:F: 1.6:1. There were 7 children and 21 adults. Majority (78.6%) of the patients ingested alkaline substances. Accidental ingestion occurred in 28.6% while 71.4% resulted from deliberate self harm especially among adults (66.7%). Almost two thirds (64.3%) of the patients presented after 48hrs of ingestion. Patients who presented early were managed conservatively. Most patients (64.3%) who presented late had nutritional and fluid rehabilitation. Two patients died from oesophageal perforation and resulting septicaemia. Psychiatric evaluation revealed that seven adults (25%) had psychotic illness while (42.9%) of the patients developed oesophageal strictures. Short segment strictures were managed with oesophageal dilatation with good outcome while long and multiple segment strictures were referred to cardiothoracic surgeons for management. Corrosive oesophageal injuries remain a prevalent and preventable condition in the developing countries. Preventive strategies should include regulation and packaging of corrosive substances, organization of psychiatric services, and education of the population on corrosive ingestion.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Pan African Medical Journal
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    • "In adults acid ingestion is mainly suicidal rather than accidental, which is associated with higher concentration and ingested volume of acids [5, 8]. Pre-hospital therapy is mainly symptomatic and aims for dilution of the ingested corrosive. "
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    ABSTRACT: Suicidal ingestion of undiluted hydrochloric acid is a rare but live-threatening event. We report on the dramatic and fulminant course of a 61-year-old woman who drank 200 ml of 30-33% hydrochloric acid. On admission to our intensive care unit she was alert and oriented with stable vital signs. Gastroscopy demonstrated complete necrosis from the hypopharynx to the pylorus, which was flushed continuously via drainage catheters. At that time point perforation was not evident. Shortly thereafter she developed an acute abdomen and a tension pneumothorax which was decompressed. CT scan demonstrated esophageal and intestinal perforation with massive mediastinal necrosis. On emergency laparostomy she showed complete necrosis of the intestine and stomach. The patient died 10 h after admission from multiorgan failure. The therapeutic options are critically discussed in comparison to previously reported cases in the literature.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · Case Reports in Gastroenterology
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    • "The extent of tissue destruction by such agents is dependent on multiple variables such as type, physical form, and concentration [5]. In the United States, the estimated incidence of caustic injuries ranges between 5,000 to 15,000 cases per year [9], with alkaline materials being the most commonly encountered. However, in developing countries such as India, hydrochloric and sulfuric acids are the caustic materials most commonly encountered [4,9]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Although the outcomes of caustic ingestion differ between children and adults, it is unclear whether such outcomes differ among adults as a function of their age. This retrospective study was performed to ascertain whether the clinical outcomes of caustic ingestion differ significantly between elderly and non-elderly adults. Medical records of patients hospitalized for caustic ingestion between June 1999 and July 2009 were reviewed retrospectively. Three hundred eighty nine patients between the ages of 17 and 107 years were divided into two groups: non-elderly (< 65 years) and elderly (≥ 65 years). Mucosal damage was graded using esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). Parameters examined in this study included gender, intent of ingestion, substance ingested, systemic and gastrointestinal complications, psychological and systemic comorbidities, severity of mucosal injury, and time to expiration. The incidence of psychological comorbidities was higher for the non-elderly group. By contrast, the incidence of systemic comorbidities, the grade of severity of mucosal damage, and the incidence of systemic complications were higher for the elderly group. The percentages of ICU admissions and deaths in the ICU were higher and the cumulative survival rate was lower for the elderly group. Elderly subjects, those with systemic complications had the greatest mortality risk due to caustic ingestion. Caustic ingestion by subjects ≥65 years of age is associated with poorer clinical outcomes as compared to subjects < 65 years of age; elderly subjects with systemic complications have the poorest clinical outcomes. The severity of gastrointestinal tract injury appears to have no impact on the survival of elderly subjects.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · BMC Gastroenterology
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