Perforation of the esophagus can be medical malpractice in at least two situations:
- A doctor – usually a gastroenterologist – tears the esophagus due to poor technique when inserting an endoscope down the esophagus to look at the stomach.
- An anesthesiologist putting a breathing tube down the patient’s throat tears an opening between the trachea and the esophagus.
These perforations from medical instruments tend to be high in the esophagus. The esophagus also can spontaneously tear open in some patients, but usually much closer to its connection to the stomach.
Patients with esophageal perforation get terrible pain, usually in the chest, neck and/or abdomen, and this is sometimes confused with a heart attack, a pulmonary embolism, a stomach ulcer or something else, and that can delay the correct diagnosis.
Rapid and aggressive treatment is the key to surviving an esophageal perforation.
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