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Am J Gastroenterol. 2006 Jul;101(7):1666-70.

Eosinophils in the esophagus--peptic or allergic eosinophilic esophagitis? Case series of three patients with esophageal eosinophilia.

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Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



Scattered eosinophils in the distal esophagus traditionally provide the hallmark for peptic esophagitis, but the upper limit of eosinophils and the longitudinal extent of peptic inflammation along the esophagus are unknown. Recently, adults and children with upper intestinal symptoms and >20 eosinophils/high-power field (eos/HPF) have been given the diagnosis of allergic esophagitis. Standardized diagnostic criteria for allergic esophagitis are lacking and the isolated finding of large numbers of eosinophils in the squamous epithelium has been used as the defining feature. We cared for three patients with symptoms and endoscopic features of esophagitis with >20 eos/HPF in their esophageal mucosa. Symptoms, endoscopic features, and histologic findings resolved after 2 months of proton pump inhibitor (PPI) treatment. The aim of this case series is to demonstrate that features thought to be consistent with a diagnosis of allergic esophagitis are also observed in peptic esophagitis.


A retrospective chart review of three patients with esophagitis (>20 eos/HPF) whose symptoms and eosinophilia resolved with PPI treatment was performed. Esophageal biopsies were reviewed in a blinded manner by one pathologist.


Patients (aged 14, 25, and 5 yr) presented with dysphagia, food impaction, and vomiting. Endoscopic features included white exudates and linear furrows. None of the patients received antiallergic treatments or dietary eliminations prior to endoscopy. Following treatment with PPIs alone, all patients became asymptomatic and endoscopic findings reverted to normal. In all three patients, pre- and post-PPI treatment eosinophil numbers/HPF decreased to normal/near normal (37 to 1, 21 to 3, and 52 to 0 eosinophils/HPF in patients 1, 2, and 3, respectively).


Large numbers of eosinophils can be seen in peptic esophagitis. This histologic finding must be interpreted in the context of the clinical setting in which it is obtained.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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