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Microsurgical reconstruction of combined tracheal and total esophageal defects.

OBJECTIVE: Lesions involving both the trachea and the esophagus are often considered inoperable because of the lack of reliable reconstruction. The purpose of this study was to review our experience of combined supercharged jejunal and other flaps for tracheal and esophageal reconstruction.

METHODS: A retrospective review of 5 consecutive cases with combined tracheal and total esophageal defects was performed. The esophageal defect was reconstructed with a supercharged jejunal flap, and the trachea was reconstructed with a free anterolateral thigh flap or a pedicled muscle flap.

RESULTS: Primary diagnosis included tracheostoma recurrence after a total laryngectomy for laryngeal cancer in 2 patients and tracheoesophageal fistula due to esophageal stenting for complications from prior treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, parathyroid cancer, and esophageal cancer in 3 patients, respectively. Tracheal and esophageal reconstructions were staged in 4 patients, and 1 patient received simultaneous reconstruction. Tracheal necrosis developed in 1 patient with a mediastinal tracheostoma, and the patient eventually died of infection 2 months later. The other 4 patients recovered well and resumed an oral diet.

CONCLUSIONS: Complex and often life-threatening lesions involving both the trachea and the esophagus are not necessarily inoperable. With careful planning, these combined defects can be safely reconstructed with multiple flaps with good functional outcomes and reasonable survival.

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