Boerhaave’s Syndrome

Other Known Aliasesnone

Definitionesophageal rupture from forceful vomiting

Clinical Significance This rupture occurs as a result of sudden increased intraesophageal pressure with negative intrathoracic pressure and the associated tear is most commonly located on the left posterolateral aspect of the distal esophagus. Gastric contents then invade the mediastinum and cause mediastinitis, necrosis, and severe bacterial infection that can lead to significant mortality.

HistoryNamed after Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738), who was a Dutch physician and earned his medical doctorate from the University of Harderwijk in 1693. He went on to earn a professorship at the University of Leiden in 1701, speaking on medicine, anatomy, botany, chemistry, and philosophy. It was during his time here that his repuatation as a skilled orator and teacher made international waves and physicians from all over the world came to listen and learn. He first described his eponymous disease in 1724 after witnessing the death of Baron Jan van Wassenaer after a retching following a particularly gluttonous feast.


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