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Am J Gastroenterol. 1992 Mar;87(3):337-41.

Ingestion of strong corrosive alkalis: spectrum of injury to upper gastrointestinal tract and natural history.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.


We have prospectively studied 31 patients who ingested strong alkalis for location, extent, severity, and outcome of the injury to the upper gastrointestinal tract. Alkalis ingested were sodium hydroxide (n = 28) and potassium hydroxide (n = 3). The injury was assessed within 36 h of alkali intake by endoscopy or surgery, or at autopsy. Symptoms and signs did not give a reliable forecast of the extent and severity of injury. The corrosive burns were classified as grade 2a in six patients, grade 2b in eight, and grade 3 in 17. The esophagus was injured in all patients, the stomach in 93.5%, and the duodenum in 29.6%. Acute complications occurred in 32.3% of the patients and death in 12.9%; all but one of such patients had grade 3 burns. All patients with 2a injury recovered without sequelae. Four of the eight patients with grade 2b injury and all survivors of grade 3 injury developed esophageal or gastric cicatrization, or both, which needed endoscopic or surgical treatment. We find endoscopy is not only a safe and reliable tool for diagnosis in such patients, but also is of importance in treatment and prognosis. We conclude that ingestion of strong alkalis is a very serious condition that inflicts severe contiguous injury to the esophagus and stomach and results in high morbidity and mortality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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