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Esophageal Perforation: Principles of Diagnosis and Surgical Management

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Abstract

Purpose

Esophageal perforation (EP) is still associated with a high mortality rate, even after surgical repair. We reviewed 17 cases of EP to evaluate the management of this major surgical problem.

Methods

We reviewed the medical records of all patients treated for EP in our department between November 2001 and November 2004. Therapy was based on various patient-related factors.

Results

Seventeen patients, with a mean age of 63 years, presented with EP mostly caused by iatrogenic incidents (11/17). In nine patients, the perforation was located in the thoracic segment, with a mean size of 2.5 ± 0.6 cm. Thoracic computed tomography (CT) was performed in all patients to assess the periesophageal inflammation precisely. More than 50% showed signs of systemic inflammation indicative of sepsis, reflected by a dramatic increase in serum C-reactive protein and leukocytosis. Treatment consisted of debridement and drainage (n = 3), primary repair (n = 3), reinforced repair (n = 4), esophageal resection (n = 5), and conservative measures (n = 2). All patients, except for three with pre-existing liver dysfunction and other comorbidities, survived, representing a mortality rate of 17.6% (14/17). An analysis of the literature (2000–2005) revealed an overall mortality rate of 19.7% (101/521), ranging from 3% to 67%.

Conclusion

Our data support the individualized surgical management of EP, based on careful evaluation of various patient-related factors, including CT findings.

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Huber-Lang, M., Henne-Bruns, D., Schmitz, B. et al. Esophageal Perforation: Principles of Diagnosis and Surgical Management. Surg Today 36, 332–340 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00595-005-3158-5

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