Boerhaave's syndrome as an initial presentation of eosinophilic esophagitis: a case series

Authors Whitney E. Jackson, Vaibhav Mehendiratta, Juan Palazzo, Anthony J. DiMarino, Daniel M. Quirk, Sidney Cohen.


Background Prior studies report esophageal rupture following endoscopy or bolus impaction in eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). The purpose of this study is to add new information to available evidence defining the clinical spectrum of spontaneous rupture (Boerhaave's syndrome) associated with vomiting in EoE.

Methods A retrospective search of inpatient and outpatient records was conducted from January 2001 to January 2011. A faculty member in pathology blindly reviewed all esophageal biopsy specimens. EoE was defined as 15 or more eosinophils in at least 2 high-power fields (hpfs) or 25 or more eosinophils in any single HPF.

Results In ten years, 447 patients were identified with a diagnosis of EoE. Of these, four patients presented with Boerhaave's syndrome in the setting of EoE. None of the patients had an established diagnosis of EoE prior to presentation. All cases presented with a triad of vomiting, chest pain and pneumomediastinum. In two patients, water-soluble contrast extravasation prompted surgical intervention (50%). Full thickness surgical specimen provides a unique opportunity to show eosinophils in the muscularis propria. Intraepithelial eosinophil infiltration was seen on all mucosal biopsies (>25/hpf) with significant improvement after steroid (topical or systemic) treatment.

Conclusions Spontaneous esophageal rupture is a rare (4/447, less than 1%) but critical presentation of EoE manifesting with vomiting, chest pain and pneumomediastinum. Surgery is
required if extravasation is seen with water-soluble contrast. We suggest that EoE may be a transmural disease in some patients, thus making the esophageal wall susceptible to spontaneous rupture with vomiting (Boerhaave's syndrome).

Keywords Boerhaave's syndrome, eosinophilic esophagitis, esophageal rupture

Case Reports