One-stage operation for treatment after delayed diagnosis of thoracic esophageal perforation

C H Chang, P J Lin, J P Chang, M J Hsieh, M C Lee, J J Chu
Annals of Thoracic Surgery 1992, 53 (4): 617-20
Perforation of the thoracic esophagus can be fatal unless diagnosed promptly and treated effectively. The high mortality with delayed treatment is due principally to an inability to effectively close the perforation and prevent leakage. From 1982 to 1988, 7 consecutive patients (aged 16 to 73 years) were treated after a delayed diagnosis (26 hours to 25 days) of thoracic esophageal perforation. In all patients, the perforation was closed after debridement with total exclusion of the esophagus (T-tube cervical esophagostomy plus absorbable ligatures applied to the esophagogastric junction and the cervical esophagus distal to the esophagostomy). Radical decortication and wide mediastinal and pleural drainage were also done. Nutritional supply was given through a feeding gastrostomy. Antibiotics were administered according to the results of cultures. All patients survived. Continuity of the esophagus was established by removal of the T tube and spontaneous absorption of the ligatures. Endoscopy and esophagography performed 4 weeks after the initial operation showed a well-healed esophagus without stenosis or leakage in all patients. No secondary thoracotomy or esophageal reconstruction was necessary. No dysphagia was noted during follow-up (range, 12 to 50 months; mean follow-up, 23 months). We conclude that primary closure of the perforation and total esophageal exclusion with the use of absorbable ligatures and T-tube esophagostomy can provide a one-stage operation with good results for repair of thoracic esophageal perforation diagnosed late.

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