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Dis Esophagus. 1997 Jan;10(1):64-8.

Boerhaave's syndrome: analysis of the literature and report of 18 new cases.

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Department of Surgery, Technische Universit√§t M√ľnchen, Germany.


Postemetic spontaneous rupture of the esophagus is an intrathoracic disaster which is generally lethal if untreated. The tragedy seems to strike more often than commonly suspected. The current literature review focuses on publications since 1980 and includes the retrospective review of 18 additional patients treated in our hospital for spontaneous rupture of the esophagus. Frequently, a wide variety of unspecific symptoms has led to the mistaken diagnosis of an acute abdomen, pancreatitis or cardiac arrest. About 40% of the patients with spontaneous rupture of the esophagus presented a history of alcoholism or heavy drinking and 41% suffered from gastroduodenal ulcer disease. Pain (83%) and vomiting (79%) often associated with dyspnea (39%) and shock (32%) are the major symptoms. This unspecific symptomatology delayed the correct diagnosis of the Boerhaave's syndrome and resulted in a significant complication rate. The mortality rate associated with Boerhaave's syndrome was 50% from the first successful surgical repair in 1947 by Barrett to 1980. After 1980, however, the mortality rate dropped to 31%, because of earlier diagnosis, surgical repair and improvement in intensive care. When surgery is delayed, the prognosis of patients with spontaneous rupture of the esophagus is in general severe.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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