In patients with corrosive oesophageal stricture for surgery, is oesophagectomy rather than bypass necessary to reduce the risk of oesophageal malignancy?

Kelechi E Okonta, Mark Tettey, Umar Abubakar
Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery 2012, 15 (4): 713-5
A best evidence topic in cardiothoracic surgery was written according to a structured protocol. The question addressed was, 'is there an increased risk of cancer in a non-resected corrosive oesophageal stricture?' Altogether, 133 papers were found using the reported search; six papers were identified that provided the best evidence to answer the question. The authors, journal, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes and results of these studies were tabulated. From the studies, 198 consecutive patients had corrosive oesophageal stricture resulting from corrosive oesophageal injury, 50 of whom (25.3%) developed oesophageal cancer. The interval between the burn and the diagnosis of scar carcinoma was 46.1 years and ranged between 25 and 58 years. The incidence of carcinoma of the oesophagus among patients from the study was significantly higher than that of the general population. In one review, seven (13%) of 54 consecutive patients treated by conservative means for caustic oesophageal stricture (COS) developed oesophageal cancer, leading to the conclusion that simultaneous resection of the oesophagus with reconstruction for such patients would provide a better probability of being completely cured of the disease. Furthermore, in patients with COS in need of operation who had a bypass procedure, it was pointed out that malignancy may develop even years after the bypass operation in the remaining part of the oesophagus and so total oesophagectomy was suggested instead of bypass. In another study, as many as 10 (31.3%) of 32 patients with corrosive oesophageal stricture developed cancer. That gave further credence to the arguments against conservative treatment or bypassing of corrosive oesophageal strictures. The risk of morbidity for intrathoracic oesophageal replacement in uncomplicated cases was 2.4%. There were basically two things that were agreed from the studies: that corrosive-induced carcinoma can occur with a reasonably high incidence if part or all of the oesophagus was left during reconstructive surgery; and that simultaneous resection of the oesophagus at the time of reconstruction in a patient with corrosive stricture offered a better outcome. The limitations of the present review were the lack of randomized controlled trials and no close follow-up.

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