Key messages

• Corrosive ingestion causes a spectrum of clinical effects ranging from insignificant oral erythema to full-thickness esophageal burns with perforation and rapid death.

• Development of esophageal strictures is seen in up to 70 per cent of patients following deep esophageal ulceration.

• Most corrosive incidents involve acids and alkalis which destroy tissues by various mechanisms including ionization, oxidation, reduction, and denaturation of cellular components.

• Early endoscopy is mandatory in all cases where significant ingestion may have occurred.

• Corticosteroids may reduce the incidence of strictures in patients with second- and third-degree burns.

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