Boerhaave's syndrome: complete, transmural laceration of the lower part of oesophagus with exit of the gastric content into the mediastinum in the patient with a pre-existing oesophageal disease. This typically occurs after forceful emesis. Boerhaave described this syndrome in the context of a patient he treated in 1723--Baron Jan von Wassenaer, Grand Admiral of the Dutch Fleet and Prefect of Rhineland, who vomited after a meal and developed left-sided chest pain and died 18 hours later. At post mortem the following were found: a tear of the left posterior wall of the oesophagus 5 cm above the diaphragm, emphysema, and food in the left pleural space.
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