Esophageal perforation in adults: aggressive, conservative treatment lowers morbidity and mortality

Stephen B Vogel, W Robert Rout, Tomas D Martin, Patricia L Abbitt
Annals of Surgery 2005, 241 (6): 1016-21 ;discussion 1021-3

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the outcome of aggressive conservative therapy in patients with esophageal perforation.

SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: The treatment of esophageal perforation remains controversial with a bias toward early primary repair, resection, and/or proximal diversion. This review evaluates an alternate approach with a bias toward aggressive drainage of fluid collections and frequent CT and gastographin UGI examinations to evaluate progress.

METHODS: From 1992 to 2004, 47 patients with esophageal perforation (10 proximal, 37 thoracic) were treated (18 patients early [<24 hours], 29 late). There were 31 male and 16 females (ages 18-90 years). The etiology was iatrogenic (25), spontaneous (14), trauma (3), dissecting thoracic aneurysm (3), and 1 each following a Stretta procedure and Blakemore tube placement.

RESULTS: Six of 10 cervical perforations underwent surgery (3 primary repair, 3 abscess drainage). Nine of 10 perforations healed at discharge. In 37 thoracic perforations, 2 underwent primary repair (1 iatrogenic, 1 spontaneous) and 4 underwent limited thoracotomy. Thirty-4 patients (4 cervical, 28 thoracic) underwent nonoperative treatment. Thirteen of the 14 patients with spontaneous perforation (thoracic) underwent initial nonoperative care. Overall mortality was 4.2% (2 of 47 patients). These deaths represent 2 of 37 thoracic perforations (5.4%). There were no deaths in the 34 patients treated nonoperatively. Esophageal healing occurred in 43 of 45 surviving patients (96%). Subsequent operations included colon interposition in 2, esophagectomy for malignancy in 3, and esophagectomy for benign stricture in 2.

CONCLUSIONS: Aggressive treatment of sepsis and control of esophageal leaks leak lowers mortality and morbidity, allow esophageal healing, and avoid major surgery in most patients.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"