Analysis of Cervical Esophagogastric Anastomotic Leaks After Transhiatal Esophagectomy: Risk Factors, Presentation, and Detection

David T Cooke, Giant C. Lin, Christine L. Lau, Linda Zhang, Ming Sing Si, Julia Lee, Andrew C. Chang, Allan Pickens, Mark B. Orringer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Background: Transhiatal esophagectomy with cervical esophagogastric anastomosis is a common approach in patients requiring esophagectomy. Factors for developing cervical esophagogastric anastomosis leaks (CEGAL), their presentation, and the value of a routine postoperative screening barium swallow in detecting CEGALs and other complications were analyzed. Methods: This single-institution retrospective study used medical records and an esophagectomy database to assess results in 1,133 patients who underwent transhiatal esophagectomy and a cervical esophagogastric anastomosis, 241 for benign disease and 892 for cancer, between January 1996 and December 2006. Results: Esophagectomy patients who experienced CEGALs included 127 (14.2%) with cancer and 23 (9.5%) with benign disease. Logistic regression analysis identified increasing number of preoperative comorbidities (p < 0.001), active smoking history (p = 0.044), and postoperative arrhythmia (p = 0.002) as risk factors for CEGALs, and a side-to-side stapled cervical esophagogastric anastomosis compared with a manually sewn one as protective (p < 0.001). For cancer patients, higher pathologic stage disease (p = 0.050) was a risk factor for CEGALs. For patients with benign disease, a higher number of prior esophagogastric operations (p = 0.007) is a risk factor for CEGALs. Of the 90.7% of CEGALs that occurred on or before postoperative day 10, cervical wound drainage (63.3%) was the most common presenting symptom. Screening barium swallow identified postoperative complications and influenced outcome in 39 patients (3.8%). Conclusions: Higher number of preoperative comorbidities, advanced pathologic stage, postoperative arrhythmia, an increased number of prior esophagogastric surgeries, and active smoking history are risk factors for developing CEGAL, and a side-to-side stapled cervical esophagogastric anastomosis is protective. Screening barium swallow identifies few postoperative complications, but provides quality control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-185
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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