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Intraoperative Dye Test in Total Laryngectomy: A Technique to Reduce the Incidence of Pharyngocutaneous Fistula.

Background: Pharyngocutaneous fistula (PCF) could complicate laryngectomy in advanced disease. The cause is multifactorial, and this may include poor technique in pharyngeal repair. Intraoperative assessment of the repaired mucosa integrity for adequate closure may reduce PCF, but this is not routinely done.

Objective: The objective of this study is to describe a novel technique that has been successfully used to ascertain intraoperative pharyngeal repair integrity.

Methods: Thirty-one patients who had total laryngectomy and pharyngeal reconstruction for locally advanced laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma were studied. Connell extramucosal suturing technique was used for the mucosal repair. Thereafter, a small feeding tube was introduced through the oral cavity to the site of the pharyngeal repair, and diluted methylene-blue dye was injected through it while digitally occluding the cervical esophagus. Whenever leakage of the dye was seen, the leakage site (s) was repaired. Thereafter, the dye test would be repeated to confirm the integrity of the repair.

Results: Their mean age was 53.4 ± 10.9 years. Seven (22.6%) patients had Stage 3 disease and 24 (77.4%) had Stage 4 disease. All the patients had neck dissection, whereas 3 (9.7%) patients had salvage laryngectomy postradiotherapy. Dye test was performed intraoperatively for all the patients and leakages were seen in 4 (12.9%) patients which were successfully repaired. Oral feeding was commenced on the fifth postoperative day, and none of the patients had PCF.

Conclusion: Performing a dye test intraoperatively helps detect the point of leakage and immediate repair will prevent PCF.

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