Considerations on cervical anastomoses in postcaustic esophageal reconstruction

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Background. The increased incidence of accidental or non-accidental ingestion of corrosive substances or drug compounds leading to postcaustic esophagitis represents a major public health issue. The treatment of postcaustic esophagitides is difficult and long lasting, calling for a complex team trained in this borderline pathology: gastroenterologist, general surgeon, otorhinolaryngologist, anesthesiologist, psychiatrist. In cases when preventive treatment has failed, the only effective therapy remains the surgical one.

Material and methods. Our study involved an analysis of the cases treated and/or operated in the Department of General and Esophageal Surgery of the “Sfanta Maria” Hospital in Bucharest, between 1981-2014; respectively 195 patients who benefited from reconstructive esophageal interventions. Of the selected patients, 191 were operated for corrosive pathology produced by ingestion of caustic soda and only four cases by ingestion of acids. The lesion balance showed that, besides the esophagus, the oropharynx (28 patients), the larynx (7 patients) and the stomach (31 patients) had been affected by the corrosion process, requiring particular surgical solutions. The bypass reconstruction (preserving the esophagus) was the standard treatment, esophagectomy having been performed in only 4 patients.

Results. The main remote postoperative complaint was feeding inability, a consequence of various causes: cervical anastomosis stenosis, motor dysfunctions of the graft or of the laryngopharyngeal complex, over-time alteration of the graft, technical vices or the degradation of intra-abdominal assemblies, traumatic injuries of the presternal substituent.

Conclusion. One of the most important moments during the esophageal reconstruction surgery remains the duration of the cervical anastomosis, since the postoperative complication rate and the remote functional outcome depend on it. Minimizing postoperative risks and complications requires a complete mastery of surgical methods, of the small technical “artifices” and of the necessary therapeutic refinements adapted to each individual case.

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