Acid reflux is top cause of Buch's condition

June, 27, 2012

BOSTON -- Esophagitis, the condition that sent Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz to Massachusetts General Hospital for five days, including a couple of days in intensive care, is most often caused by acid reflux, which damages the lining of the esophagus and can induce bleeding.

That’s according to Dr. Kunal Jajoo, a physician in the division of gastroenterology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital whose specialty is the esophagus.

Buchholz was discharged from the hospital late Tuesday night. He told reporters Wednesday morning in the clubhouse that he received three to four pints of blood transfusions.

"It was really scary," Buchholz said. "I've never felt the urge to pass out every time you stand up, and I really didn't know what was going on. When the doctor said, 'Come to my office and we'll check you out,' I said, 'I can't get there. I can't walk.' "

Buchholz said doctors have yet to find what caused his condition. Jajoo -- who cautioned he has not examined Buchholz -- said taking anti-inflammatory medications, which pitchers such as Buchholz often do, could have caused the damage.

“It sounds counterintuitive that an anti-inflammatory medication can cause inflammation, but they do so by stopping the production of certain prostoglandins (hormone-like substances) that protect the body,’’ Jajoo said.

The size of the transfusion given to Buchholz, Jajoo said, suggests that his case was on the severe side.

"Usually esophagitis is 100 percent treatable,’’ said Jajoo, noting that the site of the bleeding is found with the use of an endoscopy, a camera-like instrument. “Once it is found, we treat either by cauterizing or clipping it closed.’’

If acid reflux is found to be the cause, he added, medications known as proton pump inhibitors are administered.

Joe McDonald of contributed to this report.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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