Esophageal hamartoma as an unusual cause of neonatal apnea and bradycardia | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Esophageal hamartoma as an unusual cause of neonatal apnea and bradycardia

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March 1, 2010
by Jeffrey Coury, DO, Jonathan Steinfeld, MD, David Zwillenberg, MD, and Seth Zwillenberg, MD


Esophageal hamartoma is a rare entity, as only 7 cases have been previously reported in the English-language literature. Common symptoms include dysphagia, weight loss, and vomiting. Life-threatening airway obstruction can also occur. Because of the nonspecific nature of the symptoms, patients with these dangerous polyps are often misdiagnosed as having more common entities such as gastroesophageal reflux, peptic ulcer disease, or achalasia. Most of these tumors are missed on esophagoscopy and radiologic studies, and they can go undiagnosed for years. We diagnosed an esophageal hamartoma in an infant girl who had first presented when she was 8 days old with symptoms of apnea and cyanosis. The patient had undergone a multitude of tests since her birth, and she was eventually diagnosed with episodic bradycardia. When the patient was 6 weeks old, we discovered a polyp on nasopharyngolaryngoscopy, and we removed it by microdirect laryngoscopy and esophagoscopy. This patient was the youngest of the 8 who have now been reported to have been diagnosed with a hamartomatous polyp, and she was the only one to have presented with apnea (secondary to airway obstruction) and bradycardia. We recommend microdirect laryngoscopy and esophagoscopy to remove these pedunculated cervical esophageal lesions. A transcervical approach is warranted for sessile distal esophageal polyps. Esophageal polyps are an interesting entity in view of their rarity and intriguing presentations. Because esophageal obstructions can be life-threatening, further evaluation by laryngoscopy, bronchoscopy, and esophagoscopy is warranted when symptoms of dysphagia, vomiting, intermittent apnea, bradycardia, and weight loss persist despite conventional treatment.

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