Inflicted esophageal perforation
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Esophageal perforation in children is uncommon. A 2 1/2-year-old girl presented with multiple soft tissue injuries of various chronological ages. Initial lateral cervical spine films showed the presence of a prevertebral air collection with soft tissue swelling. Enhanced computerized tomography confirmed the presence of proximal esophageal rupture and a retropharyngeal abscess. External drainage of the abscess and intravenous antibiotics led to resolution of the perforation in 13 days. Discrepancies in the history and the constellation of injuries pointed to an inflicted etiology (through child abuse). Since 1984, 21 case studies have described inflicted esophageal perforation. Common mechanisms of injury include foreign body ingestion and blunt or penetrating external trauma. Early diagnosis of these injuries reduces both acute and long-term morbidity and mortality. Pediatric surgeons must be aware of inflicted injury as an etiology of esophageal and hypopharyngeal perforation.
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