Thorsten Tjardes, Arasch Wafaizadeh, Eva Steinhausen, Bernd Krakamp, Bertil Bouillon

March 2009, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 240 - 244 Case Report Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-009-0930-z

First Online: 20 March 2009

The case of an upper oesophageal perforation as a concomitant injury of an isolated fracture of the upper thoracic spine without neurological compromise has not been described so far. A Case report and review of the literature is presented here. Concomitant oesophageal perforations carry a high risk of being missed initially. CT alone can visualize the subtle indirect signs like peri-oesophageal air. The literature revealed that only peri-oesophageal air might be a valid indicator of oesophageal injury. There are no systematic data on thoracic spine fractures with concomitant oesophageal perforations. Mediastinitis secondary to oesophageal perforation might be treated conservatively with endoscopic stent placement rather than surgically. As the radiological signs of concomitant soft tissue injury, like oesophageal perforations, in fractures of the upper thoracic spine are subtle and easily missed initially only anticipation of concomitant injuries by the treating physician based on the trauma mechanism ensures a timely diagnosis.

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