Esophagogastric anastomosis performed with a stapler: the occurrence of leakage and stricture.

Journal: Surgery

The circular stapler has lowered the leakage rate of an esophageal anastomosis to a level hitherto achieved by only a few surgeons performing hand anastomosis on selected patients with carcinoma of the esophagus. However, the esophageal anastomosis performed with a stapler is also associated with a high stricture rate. Our prospective study was conducted to determine the leakage rate and the incidence of stricture after esophagogastric anastomosis was performed with a stapler, the relationship of stricture to the size of the stapler, and the risk of stricture in relation to time. In a group of 174 patients with carcinoma of the thoracic esophagus, resection was performed, and a one-stage esophagogastric anastomosis was constructed. There were 33 hand anastomoses, 64 anastomoses with an EEA stapler (U.S. Surgical Corp., Norwalk, Conn.), and 77 anastomoses with an ILS stapler (Ethicon Ltd., Edinburgh, U.K.). The anastomotic leakage rate was 3.4% (6/174); 3% with the hand technique and 3.5% with the stapler technique (4.7% for the EEA and 2.6% for the ILS). After leakages and hospital deaths were excluded, 133 discharged patients were evaluated for the occurrence of anastomotic strictures. Only those who complained of dysphagia were investigated. The incidence of stricture for hand anastomosis was 8.7%-EEA 20% and ILS 10%; the overall incidence of anastomoses with a stapler was 14.5%. The true incidence would probably be higher if all patients were assessed by endoscopic or radiologic examination after operation. All three sizes of EEA staplers had a high incidence of stricture. For the ILS stapler the 25 mm size had the highest stricture rate (28.6%) of all groups, but for the 29 and 33 mm sizes, the incidences were 5.3% and 0%, respectively. Actuarial analysis showed an increasing risk of stricture with a reduction in the size of stapler used and was 32.5% and 35%, respectively, for the ILS 25 mm and EEA 25 mm staplers at 131/2 months. The risk of stricture occurrence was highest in the first 4 months. Treatment by bougienage was satisfactory. In conclusion, esophagogastric anastomosis performed with a stapler is a very safe procedure with respect to leakage but is associated with a high risk of stricture, except when the largest ILS staplers are used. However, dilatation readily overcomes the stricture occurrence and adequately compensates for the reduced leakage rate and its attendant serious consequences.

J Wong, H Cheung, R Lui, Y Fan, A Smith, K Siu