Perianastomotic drainage in Ivor-Lewis esophagectomy, does habit affect utility? An 11-year single-center experience


Anastomotic leakage (AL) is a deadly complication after Ivor-Lewis esophagectomy. The use of an anastomotic drainage (AD), to diagnose and to potentially treat the leakage, is still a widespread practice. At present, scientific literature is lacking in this topic and its use is based on each center experience. We performed a retrospective analysis of 239 consecutive patients who underwent an Ivor-Lewis esophagectomy in our Department from 01/01/2006 to 31/12/2017. Until 28/02/2014, a transthoracic anastomotic drainage was routinely placed in 119 patients (anastomotic-drain group). Drainage removal was planned on POD 5 after the resume of oral intake. In the remaining 120 cases, no drainage was placed (no anastomotic-drain group). We compared the two groups to assess whether the anastomotic drainage had an impact on the timing of the anastomotic leakage diagnosis and treatment. In our series, we observed 9 anastomotic leaks in the first group (7.6%) and 3 in the second one (2.5%). In the anastomotic-drain group, median time for leak diagnosis was 10 days, and notably, in seven cases, the anastomotic drainage was already removed. Considering all the patients who experienced an AL, a re-operation was mandatory in one case, while endoscopic treatment was chosen for five cases and conservative treatment was adopted in three cases. The median hospital length of stay in these patients was 31 days. In the no anastomotic-drain group, one patient with anastomotic leakage was treated conservatively and discharged after 34 days. The other two cases were re-operated and an esophageal prosthesis was placed in both cases, and these patients were discharged, respectively, on POD 28 and POD 38. Concluding, the role of the anastomotic drain in Ivor-Lewis esophagectomy is still unclear. There is a shortage of the literature on this topic and our experience shows that the anastomotic drain has a limited sensibility in AL diagnosis and cannot replace the clinical signs and symptoms. Moreover, the drain it is often removed before the leakage becomes visible. In selected patients with a less severe leak, the anastomotic drain can be an effective treatment, but often a percutaneous drainage, it is an effective alternative choice. In severe dehiscence with sepsis, a reoperation remains the mainstay to control the mediastinal contamination and to eventually treat the leakage.

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C.A. De Pasqual gave substantial contribution to the conception, acquisition, and analysis of the work, contributed to drafting, and approved the final version of the manuscript. J. Weindelmayer gave substantial contribution to conception of the work and interpretation of the data, contributed to drafting and revising of the paper, and approved the final version of the manuscript. S. Laiti, R. La Mendola, and L. Alberti gave substantial contribution to acquisition of data and contributed to revising of the work. They approved the final version of the manuscript. M. Bencivenga and S. Giacopuzzi gave substantial contribution to conception and interpretation of the data. Both contributed to revising of the paper. They approved the final version of the manuscript. G. de Manzoni gave substantial contribution to conception and interpretation of the data, contributed to revising of the paper, and approved the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to C. A. De Pasqual.

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De Pasqual, C.A., Weindelmayer, J., Laiti, S. et al. Perianastomotic drainage in Ivor-Lewis esophagectomy, does habit affect utility? An 11-year single-center experience. Updates Surg 72, 47–53 (2020).

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  • Esophagectomy
  • Anastomotic leakage
  • Esophago-gastric anastomosis