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Surgical therapy of esophageal leiomyoma.

BACKGROUND: Surgical enucleation is the treatment of choice in selected patients with esophageal leiomyoma. The video-thoracoscopic approach can potentially cause less patient discomfort postoperatively and reduce the hospital stay and recovery period.

STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective evaluation of 66 patients who underwent surgical therapy for esophageal leiomyoma over a 27-year period was done. The main symptoms were dysphagia in 35 (53 percent) patients, heartburn or regurgitation, or both, in 11 (17 percent) patients, and retrosternal pain in ten (15 percent) patients. Associated esophageal disorders were found in 19 patients (some patients had more than one disorder): hiatal hernia in 15 (23 percent), epiphrenic diverticulum in four (6 percent), and achalasia in three (5 percent). The operation consisted of leiomyoma enucleation in 63 patients, and esophageal resection in three. In six patients, the enucleation was successfully performed by video-thoracoscopy combined with intraoperative esophagoscopy. The muscle layer of the esophagus was approximated in the majority of the patients after tumor enucleation.

RESULTS: There was no operative mortality. The incidence of intraoperative esophageal perforation was greater in patients who had previously undergone endoscopic biopsy (p < 0.01). In one patient, a pseudodiverticulum developed after thoracoscopic enucleation, requiring reoperation with approximation of the muscle layer for relief of dysphagia. The length of hospital stay was shorter in patients undergoing the video-assisted operation (p < 0.05). The median follow-up period was 53 months (range, 12 to 248 months). No recurrence of leiomyoma was observed. Overall, seven (11 percent) patients complained of heartburn or epigastric pain, or both, which was responsive to antisecretory drugs, but only three had such symptoms induced by the operation. In two patients the symptoms appeared after combined treatment of an epiphrenic diverticulum, and in one patient after simple leiomyoma enucleation.

CONCLUSIONS: Enucleation of esophageal leiomyoma is a safe and effective operation. The video-thoracoscopic approach combined with intraoperative esophagoscopy allows performance of this procedure with the added advantage of shortening hospital stay. The muscle layer of the esophagus should be approximated to avoid decreasing the propulsive activity of the esophageal body. This may improve the long-term outcome of the operation by preserving the acid-clearing mechanism of the esophagus and reducing the incidence of postoperative reflux esophagitis.

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