A 75-year-old man, who was diagnosed with a rare condition called Boerhaave syndrome and suffered from a ruptured oesophagus, underwent a surgery at a private hospital.

According to a press release, Boerhaave syndrome is fatal if not treated urgently. It is usually caused by a person placing excessive strain or stress on the oesophagus such as when vomiting repeatedly or forcefully. This causes the wall of the oesophagus to split open. Substances such as food particles, bacteria and digestive acids that are toxic to the rest of the body begin to leak into the chest or abdomen, causing serious infection.

The patient experienced recurrent bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea a few days ago. He suffered rapid breathing, low blood pressure and pain below the chest and was rushed to a nearby nursing home from where doctors referred him to Rela Hospital.

Jimmy Prabhakaran, senior consultant, General Medicine and Internal Medicine, Rela Hospital, said after investigation, they arrived at a diagnosis of Boerhaave syndrome, a condition that affects only 0.0003% of the population.

Imaging showed a large tear in the lower end of the patient’s oesophagus, leading to build-up of fluid in the lining of the chest cavity. A surgical team opted to perform a thoracotomy that lasted for four hours and involved direct repair of the oesophageal tear. Though the patient suffered from inflammation of the chest cavity, his condition improved after surgery. A gastrostomy tube was used to deliver nutrition directly to this stomach for six months after which another surgery - re-anastomosis - was done. He has returned to oral feeding and has recovered, the release said.

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