• Forty patients with caustic ingestion have been treated between 1955 and 1975. Strong alkali was the corrosive in 95%, and 80% were under 10 years old. Early esophageal stricture developed in 18 patients four weeks after lye ingestion. Among these, esophageal bougienage restored an adequate lumen in two patients with short, soft annular strictures, and right colon interposition was used for esophageal substitution in ten who had long, dense strictures. We recommend early diagnostic esophagoscopy, to the uppermost level of burn injury only, to determine the presence and severity of the esophageal injury. If esophagoscopy reveals esophageal burn injury, corticosteroid and antibiotic therapy are continued. If no burn injury is visualized, the patient is spared unnecessary treatment. Long, dense strictures unresponsive to bougienage place the patient at risk from instrumental perforation, and these patients should undergo colon interposition through a substernal extrapleural tunnel.
(Arch Surg 112:495-500, 1977)