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July 23, 1982

Caustic agent ingestion calls for esophagoscopy

JAMA. 1982;248(4):409. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330040009006

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Each year, more than 5,000 American children aged 5 years and under consume cleaning products or drain "decloggers."

The result is often an esophageal burn which, if not treated quickly and aggressively, can progress to complications.

In a paper presented to the annual meeting of the American Broncho-Esophagological Association in Palm Beach, Fla, Jeffrey S. Adam, MD, senior resident in otolaryngology, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, asserted that "overtreatment" of such cases is far preferable to "undertreatment" and that esophagoscopy of any child suspected of having consumed a caustic compound is "an absolute necessity."

Adam reported on 402 patients at Children's Hospital in Columbus who were evaluated retrospectively for possible esophageal burns after ingesting caustic agents (most commonly Liquid Drano, a 20% sodium hydroxide solution).

Results of esophagoscopy were normal for 330 (82% ) of the children. However, findings were abnormal for 72 (18% ) of the children, most of