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Are people aware of how common are chemical burns of the esophagus in children? Probably not!
Here are two statistics of concern:
- 75% of children diagnosed with a chemical burn are under 10 years old.
- Esophageal injuries are 2.5–3 times more frequent for children 1–5 years old than for those 5–10 years old.
What’s more, the damage usually is caused by chemicals, such as bleach or even vinegar (acetic acid), which are readily accessible to children in the home.
Esophageal chemical injuries include burns in the mouth or larynx. These burns may cause pulmonary edema and acute respiratory failure. They may occur when acetic acid or liquid ammonia are ingested because these substances are reactive. Even the vapors of concentrated acids and alkalis are very dangerous. “Where were the parents?” is a common question when tragedy strikes. But are parents really to blame?
A burn causes esophageal swelling which hinders eating. Sometimes recovery is only possible if a medical procedure, such as esophageal dilatation, is applied quickly. Esophageal dilatation treats the constriction of the esophagus by using special tubes of assorted diameters. With a properly conducted bougienage, the outcome is most often favorable. That is the theory, but what do we have in reality?
The sad truth is that nowadays such procedures are rarely used in the Zaporizhzhia Regional Children's Hospital because the equipment is outdated and dilapidated. The material from which the bougie was made is useless as it hardens after heating resulting in a stiff tube that can do more harm than good. Little patients who need treatment are forced to go to Kyiv. It is absolutely terrible that the medical institution that serves the children in our huge region still uses the equipment from Soviet time, which should be condemned and forgotten.
A brand new, European-quality bougie costing almost ˆ5,000 ($5,600 USD) is unaffordable for the hospital. We are looking for a cheaper option, perhaps from China, but found none so far.
We would be grateful for your help and suggestions. How can this issue be resolved?
Always remember to protect your child, so you don’t have to see for yourself or go through the nightmare of seeing your little treasure undergo an operation just because a seemingly innocuous product like vinegar was accessible.