Emergency management and sequelae of acid ingestion

Larry A. Scher, Kimball I. Maull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Because it causes immediate pain when taken into the mouth, strong mineral acid is less often swallowed than corrosive alkali, but psychotic, inebriated or determined individuals may consume lethal amounts. Burns of the oropharynx and glottis may lead to asphyxial death. Acid has only superficial effects upon the esophagus but, upon reaching the stomach, flows along the lesser curvature, induces pylorospasm, and pools in the distal antrum. Pyloric stricture is the most common late complication among survivors. Due to the rapidity with which acid acts, local and systemic therapy must be expeditious. Neutralization and demulcification are recommended but no time should be lost if weak alkali is not readily available. Lavage has limited applicability and induced emesis is strictly contraindicated. Aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, antibiotics, and opiates for pain are needed in most instances. Immediate gastrectomy and steroids are controversial but operative intervention is eventually required following most significant ingestions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-208
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the American College of Emergency Physicians
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1978
Externally publishedYes


  • acid ingestion, emergency care
  • poisoning, acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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