Acute hypoxemic respiratory failure may have different causes. Case presentation: We present the case of a 42-year-old woman, with history of recent thyroidectomy and a late history of sleeve gastrectomy, who presented for acute dyspnoea. The chest X-ray revealed hydropneumothorax, and, therefore, an intercostals chest tube drainage was inserted. The evolution was unfavourable, with further respiratory status deterioration. A computed tomography of the thorax and abdomen was performed, that revealed a dilated thoracic oesophagus and stenosis of the esophagogastric junction, with lack of substance in the oesophageal wall and extravasation of oesophageal content in the posterior mediastinum, due to an oesophageal pleural fi stula. An oesophageal stent was inserted under endoscopic guidance and the patient underwent minim-invasive surgical interventions for evacuation of the mediastinal and pleural collections, with a favourable evolution. Conclusions: Acute respiratory failure can be the face of multiple conditions, some of these can be life threatening and in need for rapid detection and treatment.