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Gastroenterology. 1994 Feb;106(2):509-32.

Esophageal infections: risk factors, presentation, diagnosis, and treatment.

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Gastroenterology/Hepatology Section, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.


Infections of the esophagus are unusual in the general population and strongly imply immunodeficiency, although immunocompetent individuals are not exempt. HIV infection is predominant among risk factors for infectious esophagitis. For all immunocompromised patients, the most frequently identified esophageal pathogens are Candida, CMV, and HSV. Peculiar to HIV-infected patients are idiopathic esophageal ulcers as well as unusual bacteria and parasites. Patterns of presentation differ with each infecting organism, and clinical features should be used as a guide in achieving a correct diagnosis. For example, a patient with AIDS presenting with esophageal symptoms and thrush, along with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever, is unlikely to resolve all symptoms with empiric antifungal therapy alone. Parsimony of diagnosis does not hold among immunodeficient patients in whom concurrent infections are common. Accurate and timely diagnoses are essential as effective treatments are available for particular etiologies. Finally, among immunocompromised patients, all esophageal symptoms are not necessarily due to an infection, and possible diagnoses of pill esophagitis, acid-peptic injury, or structural and functional abnormalities should not be overlooked.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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