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AIM: Black esophagus, or acute esophageal necrosis, is a rare entity with multifactorial aetiology. Modern theories suggest a combination of ischemia, compromised mucosa defences and corrosive agent’s injury.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: We investigated black esophagus by means of a retrospective review of 26 cases in literature. A Medline overview is performed until May 2021 by considering the Italian results. The search terms were “black esophageal syndrome in Italy”, “black esophagus in Italy”, “black esophageal necrosis in Italy”, and “Gurvits syndrome in Italy”. To complete these case reports, we illustrate our first experience of the syndrome successfully treated with esophagectomy, cervical diversion and gastrostomy.
RESULTS: Black esophagus is common in adult males (M/F: 21/5) (Range: 47-89 years; Average: 70.6 year-old). The most common symptoms are hematemesis, epigastric pain and dysphagia. Endoscopically, diffuse involvement of acute esophageal necrosis is diagnosed in 42.3% of cases. The treatment consisted on red blood cell transfusions, sucralfate administration, proton pump-inhibition, enteral nutrition and antimicrobial agents. Overall mortality was 38.4% and only one case underwent surgery for acute bleeding.
CONCLUSIONS: Black esophagus is often reversible both anatomically and functionally. Its treatment is based on supported therapies and hemodynamic resuscitation. This syndrome shows high mortality related to the coexisted medical conditions rather than acute esophageal necrosis. Only in selected cases, surgical treatment is indicated.