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A Journal on Surgery

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Minerva Chirurgica 2000 December;55(12):873-80


language: Italian

Boerhaave’s syndrome. Description of a case and survey of the literature

Soldati G., Di Piero A., Bassani L., Di Vito A., Rossi M.


Spontaneous esophageal perforation (Boerhaave's syndrome) remains a difficult diagnostic and management problem with controversial recommendations regarding its treatment. The clinical manifestations of the disease are variable, and may be misleading, thus delaying accurate recognition. On the other hand, in view of the rapid onset of severe complications, particularly mediastinitis, a prompt diagnosis is essential to a better prognosis, successful operative outcome and potential survival. A case of spontaneous perforation of the thoracic esophagus penetrating the left pleural space treated within 4 hours from admission to the Emergency Room, with minimal surgical intervention is presented. Despite negative chest X-ray, a thoracic TC showed a small right sided effusion with left sided hydropneumothorax, and the definitive diagnosis was obtained by contrast study with a water soluble medium which showed the leak communicating freely with the left pleural space. The patient underwent repair by thoracic approach, the rupture was closed with a primary suture without flap reinforcement and the pleural space drained with the placement of a single chest thoracostomy tube. The recovery was uneventful. The analysis of this case report and of the appropriate literature reveals that a poor prognosis is correlated with the time elapsed between the perforation and treatment. In conclusion the importance of an early aggressive surgical treatment for the Boerhaave's syndrome is emphasized, because any perforation treated more than 24 hours after the onset of symptoms, irrespective of the procedure used, is associated with a significantly higher morbility and mortality.

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