Injuries from medical instruments are the most common cause of esophageal perforations, or tears, though the overall risk of tearing during a medical procedure is low, notes Healthline. Tumors, swallowing acids or chemicals, throat ulcers, and physical trauma are other causes of esophageal tears.
Esophageal tears can occur in the cervical section of the esophagus inside the neck, the thoracic section in the chest or in the abdominal section that leads into the stomach, states Healthline. Pain at the tear site, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, fever and vomiting are some of the symptoms of a tear in the esophagus. People with esophageal tears may also suffer from chest pain and have difficulty swallowing. Doctors treat esophageal tears immediately, as they may lead to infections or cause permanent narrowing of the esophagus, making breathing and swallowing more difficult.
While some small tears of the esophagus heal on their own, doctors in most cases recommend surgery to repair the hole, especially if it is located in the chest or abdominal sections of the esophagus, notes Healthline. In most cases, doctors remove scar tissue and sew the hole shut, though severe tears may require the doctor to conduct a partial esophagectomy by removing part of the esophagus and then reconnecting the remainder to the stomach.