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Laparoscopic repair of chronic intrathoracic gastric volvulus.

Surgery 2000 November
BACKGROUND: Totally intrathoracic gastric volvulus is an uncommon presentation of hiatal hernia, in which the stomach undergoes organoaxial torsion predisposing the herniated stomach to strangulation and necrosis. This may occur as a surgical emergency, but some patients present with only chronic, non-specific symptoms and can be treated electively. The aim of this study is to describe a comprehensive approach to laparoscopic repair of chronic intrathoracic gastric volvulus and to critically assess the pre-operative work-up.

METHODS: Eight patients (median age, 71 years) underwent complete laparoscopic repair of chronic intrathoracic gastric volvulus. Symptoms of epigastric pain and early satiety were universally present. Five patients had reflux symptoms. The diagnostic evaluation included a video esophagogram, upper endoscopy, 24-hour pH measurement, and esophageal manometry in all patients. Operative results and postoperative outcome were recorded and follow-up at 1 year included a barium swallow in all patients.

RESULTS: All patients had documented intrathoracic stomach. Five of 8 patients had a structurally normal lower esophageal sphincter. All 4 patients with reflux esophagitis on upper endoscopy had a positive 24-hour pH study, and 2 of these patients had a structurally defective lower esophageal sphincter on manometry. None of the patients had preoperative evidence of esophageal shortening. All procedures were completed laparoscopically. The procedure included reduction of the stomach into the abdomen, primary closure of the diaphragmatic defect, and the construction of a short, floppy Nissen fundoplication. There were no major complications. One patient required repair of a trocar site hernia 6 months postoperatively. At 1-year follow-up, there were no radiologic recurrences of the volvulus. One patient complained of temporary swallowing discomfort and another had recurrent gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms caused by a breakdown of the wrap. All other patients remained asymptomatic during follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: The repair of chronic gastric volvulus can be accomplished successfully with a laparoscopic approach. A preoperative endoscopy and esophagogram are crucial to detect esophageal stricture or shortening, and manometry is needed to access esophageal motility; pH measurements do not affect operative strategy. The procedure should include a Nissen fundoplication to treat preoperative GERD, to prevent possible postoperative GERD, and to secure the stomach in the abdomen. The procedure is safe but technically challenging, requiring previous laparoscopic foregut surgical expertise.

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