Endoscopic esophageal vacuum therapy: A novel therapy for esophageal perforations in pediatric patients

Michael A. Manfredi, Susannah J. Clark, Steven J. Staffa, Peter D. Ngo, C. Jason Smithers, Thomas E. Hamilton, Russell W. Jennings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Esophageal perforation is a potentially life-threatening problem if not quickly diagnosed and treated appropriately. Negative-pressure wound therapy, commercially known as V.A.C. therapy, was developed in the early 1990s and is now standard of care for chronic surface wounds, ulcers, and burns. Adapting vacuum sponge therapy for use intraluminally for perforations of the esophagus was first reported in 2008. We report the first pediatric experience on a customized esophageal vacuum-assisted closure (EVAC) device for closure of esophageal perforations. Aim: To evaluate the technical feasibility, safety, and efficacy of EVAC in a pediatric population with esophageal perforations and compare efficacy to a cohort of patients who underwent stenting for esophageal perforation. Methods: We performed an institutional review board-approved retrospective chart review on all patients who underwent EVAC for esophageal perforations (October 2013-September 2017) andwhounderwent externally removable stent placement for esophageal perforation (January 2010-December 2017) at our institution. Our primary aim was to evaluate technical feasibility, efficacy, and safety in the treatment of pediatric esophageal perforations.Asecondary aim was to compare the efficacy of EVAC to esophageal stenting in healing esophageal perforations in our pediatric population. Results: A total of 17 patients with esophageal atresia underwent therapy for esophageal perforation. Eight spongeswere placed for surgical perforation and 9 were placed after endoscopic therapy perforation. Themedian age of patients was 24 months with the youngest patient being 3 months of age. The success rate ofEVACto seal all esophageal perforations was88%(15/17). The success rate was similar in both subgroups: Surgical anastomotic leaks at 88%(7/8) and endoscopic therapy leaks at 89% (8/9). There were no technical failures with placement. The stent group had a total of 24 patients: 19were placed secondary to perforations from endoscopic therapy and 5 were placed secondary to surgical anastomotic perforations. The success rate of stents to seal all esophageal perforations was 63% (15/24). The success rate in the subgroups was 74% (14/19) for endoscopic therapy leaks and 20% (1/5) for surgical anastomotic leaks. In comparing success of EVAC and stent therapy, we found a statistically significant difference in favor of EVAC in healing surgical anastomotic perforations (P=0.032). Therewas, however, no statistical difference in healing endoscopic therapy perforations (P=0.360). Conclusions: EVAC is a novel, promising technique for the treatment of esophageal perforations in a pediatric population. This treatment is comparable to esophageal stenting in iatrogenic endoscopic therapy perforations and superior to stenting surgical perforations. Further prospective studies are needed to compare the effectiveness ofEVACto esophageal stenting. Improvement in device design and customization could further improve success and ease of placement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-712
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Esophageal Atresia
  • Esophageal Leak
  • Esophageal Perforation
  • Esophageal Stent
  • Esophageal Vacuum-assisted Closure
  • Negative-Pressure Wound Therap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Gastroenterology

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