Background and Aims: Herpes simplex esophagitis (HSE) is the second most common cause of infectious esophagitis and occurs in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised patients. The aim of this study was to reappraise the clinical course of HSE in different patient populations based on degree of immunocompetence and the presence or absence of underlying esophageal disease. Methods: Patients with histopathologically confirmed HSE identified from the Mayo Clinic pathology database from 2006 to 2016 were included in this study. Relevant demographic, clinical, and endoscopic data were retrospectively reviewed and compared between two cohorts: (a) immunocompromised and immunocompetent patients and (b) patients with and without underlying esophageal disorders. Results: Forty-six patients were included in the study. The most common presenting symptoms were odynophagia (34.8%) and dysphagia (30.4%). Thirty-three (71.7%) patients were immunocompromised, and these patients who experienced longer duration of symptoms (25.5 ± 23.4 days vs. 7.0 ± 5.5 days, p = 0.04) were more likely to require an extension of treatment course (38.1% vs. 8.3%, p = 0.05) compared to their immunocompetent counterparts. Seventeen (37%) patients had underlying esophageal disease, and these patients were more likely to have concomitant esophageal candidiasis (41.2% vs. 10.3%, respectively; p = 0.01). Conclusion: Herpes simplex virus causes esophagitis in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised patients. While the disease course appears to be self-limited for all patient populations, clinical and endoscopic differences in the disease presentation and clinical course based on immune status and the presence or absence of underlying esophageal disease exist.
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