This is a re-appraisal of the supposedly rare Mallory-Weiss syndrome in which 11 patients with mucosal tears at the oesophagogastric junction are described. The fact that these cases were collected from general hospitals within a short period suggests that the condition is more common than supposed and may account for a considerable proportion of the 20 to 25% of patients with upper gastrointestinal bleeding in whom no radiological abnormality can subsequently be found.
Of the 11 patients, eight presented with gastrointestinal bleeding, two with mediastinitis, and one without relevant symptoms. The classical history of antecedent vomiting before the bleeding was obtained in only four patients, its absence not excluding the diagnosis. The presence of a small hiatal hernia in four patients appeared to predispose to mucosal tears as did mucosal atrophy occurring with advancing age. Some experimental findings pertaining to the mechanism of the tears are presented.
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