Surgical strategy for the treatment of aortoesophageal fistula

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To present a surgical strategy for aortoesophageal fistula (AEF).


From October 1999 to May 2017, 27 patients with AEF were treated at Kobe University Hospital. After 9 patients with malignancies or fish bone penetration were excluded, 18 patients who had AEF secondary to aortic lesions were investigated. The mean age was 67.2 ± 10.4 years, and the male/female ratio was 16:2. Twelve patients had a nondissection thoracic aneurysm, and 6 patients had a chronic aortic dissection. Six patients were in shock. Seven patients had a previous thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR) in the descending aorta, 2 patients had descending aorta replacement, 1 had hemiarch replacement, and 2 had total arch replacement. As the first treatment for AEF, 3 patients underwent TEVAR as destination therapy, 3 patients had a bridge TEVAR to open surgery, 1 patient had an extra-anatomical bypass from the ascending aorta to the abdominal aorta, and 11 patients had an in situ reconstruction of the descending aorta. The esophagus was resected in 16 patients, and an omental flap was installed in 16 patients. Additional procedures were extra-anatomical bypass in 2 patients and in situ reconstruction of the aorta in 3 patients.


Hospital mortality was noted in 4 patients (22.2% persistent sepsis, n = 3: pneumonia, n = 1). However, since 2007, only 1 of 13 patients has died (pneumonia). Late death occurred in 5 patients, due to pneumonia, cerebral bleeding, diarrhea, sudden death, and persistent infection. Actuarial survival was 42.4 ± 12.8% at 5 years and freedom from aorta-related death was 59.4 ± 13.5% at 5 years. Nine patients achieved completed reconstruction of the esophagus 172 ± 57 days after initial surgery.


Although a comparative study was not performed, 1-stage surgery consisting of resection of an aneurysm and esophagus, in situ reconstruction of the descending aorta, and omental flap installation provided a better outcome in the treatment for AEF. Bridging TEVAR to the open surgery is a useful adjunct in patients with AEF with hemorrhagic shock. Later reconstruction of the esophagus can be performed in the survivors.

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