Challenges in reversing esophageal discontinuity operations

Christina Barkley, Mark B. Orringer, Mark D. Iannettoni, John Yee, Thomas J. Watson, Leslie Kohman, Stephen C. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Background. After catastrophic esophageal or gastric disruption results in esophageal discontinuity, operations to restore swallowing are surgical challenges. Methods. A retrospective review and assessment of functional results was performed in 40 patients (average age 59.9 years) who had 42 operations to reverse esophageal discontinuity between 1973 and 2002. Results. Esophageal discontinuity resulted from gastric necrosis after esophagectomy and esophagogastrostomy (n = 10) or hiatal hernia repair (n = 4), esophageal perforation complicating dilatation (n = 5), failed colonic or jejunal interpositions (n = 5), caustic ingestion (n = 4), Boerhaave syndrome (n = 4), esophagogastric anastomotic leak (n = 3), and other causes (n = 6). Eighteen patients (43.9%) required prolonged mechanical ventilation. Thirty-one (75.6%) had an end cervical esophagostomy; 6, an anterior thoracic esophagostomy; 2, lateral esophagostomy and in situ native esophagus stapled and divided distally; and 1 each, a stapled, divided esophagus without esophagostomy and a stapled undivided esophagus without esophagostomy. Twenty-six patients (63.4%) had undergone partial or total gastrectomy. Ten (24.4%) had vocal cord paralysis. Operations reestablishing continuity included colonic interposition in 23 (56.1%), substernal gastric interposition in 7 (17.1%), esophagectomy and cervical anastomosis in 6, esophageal reanastomosis in 3, staged jejunal interposition in 1, and Roux-en-Y esophagojejunostomy in 1. There were no hospital deaths. Twenty-eight patients (68.3%) had post-operative complications. Length of stay averaged 20.6 days. Follow-up for 40 patients averaged 54.5 months. Functional results (39 patients) were excellent in 12 (30.8%), good in 15 (38.5%), fair in 10 (25.6%), and poor in 2 (5.1%). Conclusions. Successful reversal of esophageal discontinuity requires individualized assessment and ingenuity. Despite appreciable morbidity, the ultimate result is generally gratifying.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)989-995
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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