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July 20, 2018

Doctors at Abington Hospital treat man who died from rotting throat due to cocaine use

'Black esophagus' is a rare but life-threatening condition

Addiction Diseases
Stock_Carroll - Cocaine packed for street sale Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Cocaine packaged in small canisters to be sold on the street.

A man in Pennsylvania died after years of excessive cocaine use caused the flesh in his throat to rot away, according to doctors at Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health.

A report published Thursday detailed how the 50-year-old man, who was not identified, was taken to the emergency room because he had used cocaine prior to vomiting blood three times in six hours and losing consciousness.

The man had a medical history of heart disease and fatty liver disease, which can also contribute to the rare condition's onset. The report also said the man drank "four to five cans of beer per day."

According to Dr. Waqas Ullah, who treated the man, this is believed to be just the fourth case of acute oesophageal necrosis from cocaine use worldwide.

Acute oesophageal necrosis, also known as "black esophagus," is a rare condition characterized by the death of almost all of the blood cells in the esophagus, marked by the black discoloration of the throat, the report details.

The patient was managed with intravenous fluids, packed red blood cell transfusions, proton pump inhibitors and sucralfate suspension, the report said. 

He was placed in intensive care and monitored frequently, however he died 12 hours after being brought to Abington Hospital.