Acute esophageal necrosis (AEN) or "black esophagus" is a rare clinical entity caused by necrosis of distal esophageal mucosa stemming from esophageal ischemia. Possible etiologies are broad but most commonly include possible triggers of low-flow vascular states in the esophagus, including infections, broad-spectrum antibiotic use, and gastric volvulus, among others. Patients most commonly present clinically with acute onset hematemesis and melena. Here, we describe a patient who initially presented with multiple nonspecific gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain and nausea, that progressed over a 10-day period, culminating in multiple episodes of hematemesis prior to presentation. Endoscopic evaluation confirmed the diagnosis of AEN and unveiled a possible paraesophageal hernia (PEH) as the causative factor. A subsequent videofluoroscopic barium swallow was utilized to better characterize the upper gastrointestinal anatomy and confirmed the PEH as a likely etiology. Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) can often identify PEH independently, but in patients with AEN secondary to a possible, but unclear, PEH on EGD, a videofluoroscopic barium swallow is an appropriate and useful next step in confirming the diagnosis. While treatment of AEN traditionally involves fluid resuscitation, intravenous protein pump inhibitors, and total parenteral nutrition, surgical intervention is often indicated in patients who have a contributing and symptomatic PEH.
Recommended CitationLi, Chris J; Claxton, Benjamin B; Block, Peter; Reilly, Sean; Manski, Scott; and Choudhary, Cuckoo, "Acute Esophageal Necrosis Secondary to a Paraesophageal Hernia." (2021). Department of Medicine Faculty Papers. Paper 339.
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