Ingestion of lye is a well-known cause of chemical burns and stricture of the esophagus. Approximately 50% of such burns and almost all strictures result from the ingestion of this agent. Owens,1 in reviewing 131 cases of chemical burns of the esophagus, found lye to be the cause of 65 cases. Of 20 cases of stricture, this substance was ingested in every case in his series. Similarly, Stothers2 found 22 of 47 cases of chemical burns of the esophagus to be due to lye. Of 18 strictures in his group, 12 were due to sodium hydroxide.
Clinicians may not be aware of the commonly used agents found in the home which may contain lye. One which we would like to describe is "Clinitest," the tablets almost universally used by diabetics in their daily urine testing. These tablets contain a combination of anhydrous sodium hydroxide, copper sulfate, citric acid,
ZIMMERMAN C. Esophageal Stricture from Accidental Ingestion of Clinitest Tablets. AMA Am J Dis Child. 1959;97(1):101–103. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/archpedi.1959.02070010103012
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