Corrosive oesophageal injuries: a preventable menace
Introduction: Potentially catastrophic presentations and lifelong complications resulting from corrosive ingestions in humans is one of the most challenging situations encountered in clinical medical practice. This study reviewed pattern, mechanisms and associated socio-medical challenges with ingestion of corrosive agents as seen in a tertiary health institution in South-western Nigeria.
Methods: A retrospective review of all patients that were managed for corrosive ingestion at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria, over a seven year period.
Results: A total of 28 patients M:F: 1.6:1. There were 7 children and 21 adults. Majority (78.6%) of the patients ingested alkaline substances. Accidental ingestion occurred in 28.6% while 71.4% resulted from deliberate self harm especially among adults (66.7%). Almost two thirds (64.3%) of the patients presented after 48hrs of ingestion. Patients who presented early were managed conservatively. Most patients (64.3%) who presented late had nutritional and fluid rehabilitation. Two patients died from oesophageal perforation and resulting septicaemia. Psychiatric evaluation revealed that seven adults (25%) had psychotic illness while (42.9%) of the patients developed oesophageal strictures. Short segment strictures were managed with oesophageal dilatation with good outcome while long and multiple segment strictures were referred to cardiothoracic surgeons for management.
Conclusion: Corrosive oesophageal injuries remain a prevalent and preventable condition in the developing countries. Preventive strategies should include regulation and packaging of corrosive substances, organization of psychiatric services, and education of the population on corrosive ingestion.
Key words: Corrosive injuries, caustic ingestion, accidental ingestion, self harm, mechanisms, prevention, psychiatric disorders, esophageal stricture, Nigeria