UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Caustic Exposures - Continued

Keywords: caustic (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/26/2010 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Updated: 6/19/2024)
Click here to contact Fermin Barrueto, MD

In a previous pearl we were discussing the need to perform EGD for any suicidal patient with a history of ingestion of a caustic to grade injury and assess chance of perforation and/or stricture formation. Suicidal patients are intentionally ingesting the caustic and can thus justify the risk/benefit ratio more easily than the pediatric unintentional ingestion. The concerned parent will bring the child in with a possible ingestion of a caustic. The container could be simply in the same room, spilled on the child and never be ingested. Even if ingested, the amount is less if the child tastes the caustic and will reflexively cause spitting. The literature is scant in regards to this type of patient but seems to point to this general algorithm:

Child displays 2 or more of the following symptoms there is enough evidence from case series that there will be a clinically signficant lesion found on EGD.

Vomiting, Drooling, Stridor, Presence of Oropharyngeal Burns

That being said, many clinicians would elect for EGD and assessment of airway with stridor alone. Do not be fooled into thinking if you see no oral lesions that there is no way the child ingested the caustic. Each case series showed a lack of correlation of physical exam findings to EGD findings.








Gaudrealt, 1983

Crain, 1984

Previtera, 1990