What is an esophageal injury?
The esophagus is the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. When you eat or drink, it goes down this tube to reach your stomach. This type of injury most often occurs as a wound to your neck such as a stab or gunshot wound.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Your symptoms will depend on the extent of your injury. These symptoms most often include: chest pain, abdominal pain, pain and tenderness in the neck, problems swallowing, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms that are seen less often include: bloody sputum, wheezing while inhaling, and hoarseness.
What tests will I need?
- CT scan
How is it treated?
Treatment can be surgery or closely watching it. If surgery is needed, the surgeons will repair the esophagus by stitching the tear. They will also place a drain. If surgery is not done, you will be watched closely for a couple days.
What will happen during my hospital stay?
After surgery or while you are being closely watched, you will not be able to eat or swallow. The doctors will decide when you may eat again. You will be given a tetanus shot and antibiotics. You may need to have a tube placed down your esophagus to help your stomach get rid of excess gas and fluid. You can be given tube feedings to allow extra time for your esophagus to heal. You will be given medicine for the pain.
What complications could occur?
If your injury is repaired in surgery, complications can include a leak, wound infection, pneumonia, or inflammation of your chest tissue. To prevent these problems and catch them early, the staff will be drawing daily blood tests, taking X-rays, and often checking how you breathe and swallow.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 02/08/2010
Copyright © 02/05/2010 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6904
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