Researchers describe a patient with a “candy cane appearance” of the esophagus, due to acute thermal injury, in the October issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Upon further investigation, the authors found that the patient had poured hot boiling tea into his throat.
Acute esophageal thermal injury occurs mostly after drinking hot liquids or swallowing solid foods. Its occurrence is more common in Eastern vs Western cultures, because of differences in foods and drinks.
Patients most frequently present with odynophagia, chest pain, hematemesis, and melena. Endoscopic evaluation shows alternating white and red linear mucosal bands, esophageal ulcers, or pseudomembranes.
The authors explain that most patients respond well to conservative management with parenteral nutrition, proton pump inhibitors, and sucralfate. They usually have complete healing of the esophageal mucosa within 1 month.
However, esophageal perforation can occur on rare occasions, although long-term complications are uncommon.