NYMC Faculty Publications


Esophageal Perforation as a Complication of the Heimlich Maneuver in a Pediatric Patient: A Case Report

Document Type

Case Report

Publication Date

July 2018




We report a case of cervical esophageal perforation caused by the Heimlich maneuver in a healthy 16-year-old boy. The patient reported a short coughing episode while eating rice, and his mother performed the Heimlich maneuver on him. Five days later, he presented to the emergency department with throat pain, odynophagia, secretion intolerance, muffled voice, and neck stiffness. He was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit for conservative management. The next day he underwent transcervical incision and drainage of purulence, but the esophageal perforation could not be visualized at that time. The perforation was identified several days later and successfully repaired surgically. Esophageal perforation as a complication of the Heimlich maneuver is exceedingly rare, but the clinician should be aware of this entity in the differential diagnosis, as it is associated with a high mortality rate and warrants multidisciplinary care, including timely surgical intervention.