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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care
Minerva Anestesiologica 2010 October;76(10):865-7
Boerhaave’s syndrome - Rapidly evolving pleural effusion; a radiographic clue
Hingston C. D., Saayman A. G., Frost P. J., Wise M. P. ✉
Department of Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK
Boerhaave’s syndrome is the rare and often fatal condition of spontaneous esophageal rupture. Meckler’s triad of vomiting, pain and subcutaneous emphysema are characteristic features of Boerhaave’s syndrome. When these symptoms are absent, diagnosis is frequently late and often occurs as the result of incidental investigation. This contributes to the observed high morbidity and mortality. Unless specifically considered in the differential diagnosis, this rare disease is frequently overlooked. The authors described the case of a patient in whom the diagnosis was made several days following presentation by observing that a large pleural effusion had evolved rapidly on chest radiographs. This uncommon radiological sign has relatively few causes and prompted a review of the history and diagnosis, followed by the initiation of additional investigations that confirmed Boerhaave’s syndrome.