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Radiographics. 2002 Oct;22 Spec No:S247-58.

Thoracic complications of esophageal disorders.

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1
Department of Radiology, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Avda Sant Antoni M. Claret 167, 08025 Barcelona, Spain. agimenez@hsp.santpau.es

Abstract

Abnormalities of the esophagus are common, and complications associated with these disorders and diseases can involve the mediastinum, tracheobronchial tree, and lungs. The most common complications include mediastinitis secondary to esophageal perforation or postoperative anastomotic leak, or both; empyema due to fistula formation; and aspiration pneumonia. The authors reviewed the radiologic appearances of those and other common thoracic complications associated with esophageal disorders to facilitate early detection, diagnosis, and management. Computed tomographic (CT) findings of acute mediastinitis secondary to esophageal perforation may include esophageal thickening, extraluminal gas, pleural effusion, single or multiple abscesses, and extraluminal contrast medium. The radiologic manifestations of pneumonia secondary to tracheoesophageal fistula are variable, depending on the spread and severity of the aspiration. The most common radiographic pattern is that of bronchopneumonia with scattered air-space opacities. CT has been regarded as the imaging modality of choice for the evaluation of suspected esophagopleural fistula, because the site of communication between the pleural space and the esophagus can often be seen. An awareness of the radiologic manifestations of these complications is thus required to facilitate early diagnosis.

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