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Ann Thorac Surg. 2009 Jul;88(1):177-84; discussion 184-5. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2009.03.035.

Analysis of cervical esophagogastric anastomotic leaks after transhiatal esophagectomy: risk factors, presentation, and detection.

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Section of Thoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.



Transhiatal esophagectomy with cervical esophagogastric anastomosis is a common approach in patients requiring esophagectomy. Factors for developing cervical esophagogastric anastomosis leaks (CEGAL), their presentation, and the value of a routine postoperative screening barium swallow in detecting CEGALs and other complications were analyzed.


This single-institution retrospective study used medical records and an esophagectomy database to assess results in 1,133 patients who underwent transhiatal esophagectomy and a cervical esophagogastric anastomosis, 241 for benign disease and 892 for cancer, between January 1996 and December 2006.


Esophagectomy patients who experienced CEGALs included 127 (14.2%) with cancer and 23 (9.5%) with benign disease. Logistic regression analysis identified increasing number of preoperative comorbidities (p < 0.001), active smoking history (p = 0.044), and postoperative arrhythmia (p = 0.002) as risk factors for CEGALs, and a side-to-side stapled cervical esophagogastric anastomosis compared with a manually sewn one as protective (p < 0.001). For cancer patients, higher pathologic stage disease (p = 0.050) was a risk factor for CEGALs. For patients with benign disease, a higher number of prior esophagogastric operations (p = 0.007) is a risk factor for CEGALs. Of the 90.7% of CEGALs that occurred on or before postoperative day 10, cervical wound drainage (63.3%) was the most common presenting symptom. Screening barium swallow identified postoperative complications and influenced outcome in 39 patients (3.8%).


Higher number of preoperative comorbidities, advanced pathologic stage, postoperative arrhythmia, an increased number of prior esophagogastric surgeries, and active smoking history are risk factors for developing CEGAL, and a side-to-side stapled cervical esophagogastric anastomosis is protective. Screening barium swallow identifies few postoperative complications, but provides quality control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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