This study aimed to characterize rates and management of anastomotic leak (AL) and conduit necrosis (CN) after esophagectomy in an international cohort.
Outcomes in patients with anastomotic complications of esophagectomy are currently uncertain. Optimum strategies to manage AL/CN are unknown, and have not been assessed in an international cohort.
This prospective multicenter cohort study included patients undergoing esophagectomy for esophageal cancer between April 2018 and December 2018 (with 90 days of follow-up). The primary outcomes were AL and CN, as defined by the Esophageal Complications Consensus Group. The secondary outcomes included 90-day mortality and successful AL/CN management, defined as patients being alive at 90 day postoperatively, and requiring no further AL/CN treatment.
This study included 2247 esophagectomies across 137 hospitals in 41 countries. The AL rate was 14.2% (n = 319) and CN rate was 2.7% (n = 60). The overall 90-day mortality rate for patients with AL was 11.3%, and increased significantly with severity of AL (Type 1: 3.2% vs. Type 2: 13.2% vs. Type 3: 24.7%, P < 0.001); a similar trend was observed for CN. Of the 329 patients with AL/CN, primary management was successful in 69.6% of cases. Subsequent rounds of management lead to an increase in the rate of successful treatment, with cumulative success rates of 85.4% and 88.1% after secondary and tertiary management, respectively.
Patient outcomes worsen significantly with increasing AL and CN severity. Reintervention after failed primary anastomotic complication management can be successful, hence surgeons should not be deterred from trying alternative management strategies.