The role of esophagectomy in the management of esophageal perforations

Áron Altorjay, János Kiss, Attila Vörös, Endre Szirányi

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Background. Despite the many advancements made in thoracic surgery, the management of patients with esophageal perforation remains problematic and controversial. Methods. Between 1985 and 1995, 27 esophagectomies were performed for perforation of the thoracic esophagus. A retrospective review of the records of these patients was carried out, and a scoring scale developed by Elebute and Stoner to grade the severity of sepsis was applied. Results. Among the 27 patients undergoing esophagectomy for a perforation, the interval between rupture and esophagectomy was less than 24 hours in only 11 patients (40.7%). Postoperative surgical complications occurred in 4 patients (14.8%) and nonsurgical complications, in 7 (25.9%). The hospital mortality rate was 3.7% (1/27). In 14 patients, primary reconstruction was performed in the bed of the excised esophagus. There were no anastomotic leaks in this subgroup. This suggests that an anastomosis between viable, well-vascularized tissues is more important for successful healing than avoidance of some degree of contamination of the adjacent mediastinum. On follow-up, which averages 41 months, 73% of patients (16/22) have neither symptoms nor complaints. Conclusions. Esophageal resection definitively eliminates the source of intrathoracic sepsis, the perforation, and the affected esophagus. Reconstruction carried out in one stage does not increase operative morbidity. Esophageal resection and reconstruction is a valid approach even in cases of spontaneous perforation in which the diagnosis is markedly delayed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1433-1436
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 1998


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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