Temporary stenting of acquired benign tracheoesophageal fistulas in critically ill ventilated patients
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To evaluate the use of esophageal stents for temporary sealing of acquired benign tracheoesophageal fistulas developed in critically ill, ventilated patients.
This is a retrospective analysis (1992–2003) of the data of 12 mechanically ventilated patients — six of them after major or multiple trauma — being intubated for a median of 30 days before they develop an acquired benign tracheoesophageal fistula. Five of them were in sepsis. Two types of stents were used: the Wilson-Cook esophageal balloon plastic stent in the first four cases and the Ultraflex covered self-expandable stent in the remaining eight. The total procedure was performed at bedside in the intensive care unit, with no special need for supplementary anesthesia or fluoroscopic control.
Stent implantation was technically successful in all patients and fistula occlusion was achieved in every case. There was no stent migration and fistulas remained sealed until death or upon decision for removal. Nine patients died between 5 days and 2 months after stent placement, as a result of their diseases. Three patients were referred for fistula surgical repair 33, 36, and 43 days after stent placement. Before surgery the stents were easily removed under direct vision.
Temporary closure of an acquired tracheoesophageal fistula developed in critically ill ventilated patients is an easy, bedside-applicable, safe, and effective palliative procedure, with no complications or mortality.
KeywordsTracheal injury Fistula Esophagoscopy Stents
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