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Laryngoscope. 2004 Nov;114(11):1924-31.

Endoscopic management of hypopharyngeal stenosis after organ sparing therapy for head and neck cancer.

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  • 1Division of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



The objective of this study was to describe and evaluate the efficacy of an endoscopic technique for the management of postchemoradiation hypopharyngeal stenosis in head and neck cancer patients.


Retrospective review.


Patients with postchemoradiation hypopharyngeal stenoses were identified from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute head and neck database. Patients who had undergone extirpative surgery and reconstruction were excluded. All patients underwent either anterograde dilatation (AD) by the lead author (C.A.S.) or transgastric retrograde esophagoscopy with anterograde dilatation (TREAD) (C.A.S., M.T.J.). Chemoradiation records, clinic notes, operative reports, and swallowing test data were reviewed. Removal of the gastric feeding tube was considered the endpoint of rehabilitation.


Seventeen patients had postcricoid stenoses identified by modified barium swallow. Endoscopy confirmed 15 postcricoid stenoses and 2 proximal esophageal stenoses. Nine (53%) patients had partial stenoses, and eight (47%) had complete stenoses. Eight partial stenosis patients underwent 10 AD procedures and 3 TREAD procedures. Eight complete stenosis patients underwent 9 TREAD procedures and 26 subsequent AD procedures. Fifteen of 16 (93%) patients resumed swallowing after dilatation. Thirteen (81%) patients maintained their weight on an oral diet and had their gastric feeding tubes removed. Complications included hypopharyngeal perforation (13%), abdominal wall infection (6%), stomach wall dehiscence (6%), and chondroradionecrosis of the cricoid cartilage (6%).


Postcricoid hypopharyngeal stenosis may be partial or complete after organ sparing chemoradiation for head and neck cancer. Using the TREAD technique, successful rehabilitation of swallowing can be achieved with a low incidence of complications.

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