An Analysis of Esophageal Stent Placement for Persistent Leak After the Operative Repair of Intrathoracic Esophageal Perforations

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Surgical repair of esophageal perforation has been the mainstay of therapy for patients without associated esophageal malignancy or diffuse mediastinal necrosis. However, the leak rate after primary surgical repair is reported to range between 15% and 20% and increases to 45% and 70% in patients whose repair is delayed beyond 24 hours. This analysis reviews patients who experienced a leak after the operative repair of an esophageal perforation treated with esophageal stent placement.


Patients undergoing esophageal stent placement for the treatment of a leak after the operative repair of an intrathoracic esophageal perforation were identified from a single institution's database, which included patients initially treated at other facilities. Patient outcomes were recorded and analyzed.


During a 7-year period, 32 esophageal stents were placed in 29 patients who experienced an esophageal leak after operative repair. Associated surgical procedures were simultaneously performed in 7 (24%) patients. Leak occlusion occurred in 27 patients (93%). Two patients required a reoperative repair. Twenty-five patients (86%) were able to initiate oral nutrition within 72 hours of stent placement. Stent migration in 5 patients (19%) required repositioning (n = 2) or replacement (n = 3). Stents were removed at a mean of 22 ± 16 days after placement. Mean hospital length of stay was 8 ± 11 days.


Endoluminal esophageal stent placement is a safe and effective treatment for the majority of leaks after the operative repair of an intrathoracic esophageal perforation. Stent placement resulted in rapid leak occlusion and provided the opportunity for early oral nutrition while eliminating the need for reoperative repair or esophageal exclusion in the majority of patients.

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