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Tex Heart Inst J. 2001;28(1):65-8.

Esophageal perforation in a sword swallower.

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Department of Cardiovascular Sugery, Christus St Joseph Hospital, Houston, Texas 77002, USA.


We present the case of a 59-year-old man who sustained an esophageal perforation as a result of sword swallowing. An esophagogram established the diagnosis, and surgical repair was attempted. However, 19 days later, a persistent leak and deterioration of the patient's condition necessitated a transhiatal esophagectomy with a left cervical esophagogastrostomy. The patient recovered and has resumed his daily activities at the circus, with the exception of sword swallowing. This case report presents an unusual mechanism for a potentially lethal injury. Our search of the English-language medical literature revealed no other report of esophageal perforation resulting from sword swallowing. Management of such an injury is often difficult, and a favorable outcome is dependent on prompt diagnosis and treatment.

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