Esophagorespiratory fistula: long-term results of palliative treatment with covered expandable metallic stents in 61 patients

Radiology. 2004 Jul;232(1):252-9. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2321030733. Epub 2004 May 27.


Purpose: To evaluate long-term clinical results of palliative treatment of esophagorespiratory fistulas (ERFs) with covered expandable metallic stents.

Materials and methods: Sixty patients with ERFs due to esophageal or bronchogenic carcinoma and one patient with ERF due to pressure necrosis caused by initial esophageal stent placement for esophageal carcinoma were treated with covered expandable esophageal or tracheobronchial metallic stents. Information about technical success of stent placement, initial clinical success and failure, fistula reopening, and complications was obtained. Survival curves for both patient groups with initial clinical success and failure were obtained and compared with Kaplan-Meier methods and log-rank test.

Results: Stent placement was technically successful in all patients, with no immediate procedural complications. The stent completely sealed off the fistula in 49 (80%) of 61 patients so that they had no further aspiration symptoms (initial clinical success). Twelve (20%) of 61 patients had persistent aspiration symptoms due to incomplete ERF closure (initial clinical failure). During follow-up, the fistula reopened in 17 (35%) of 49 patients with initial clinical success: In eight patients, the reopened ERF was sealed off successfully with stent placement or balloon dilation. In two patients with reopened ERF caused by food impaction, the reopened fistula resolved spontaneously. Seven patients did not undergo further treatment. All patients died during follow-up, and mean survival was 13.4 weeks (range, 1-56 weeks) after stent placement. Mean survival in patients with initial clinical success was significantly longer than that in patients with initial clinical failure (15.1 vs 6.2 weeks, P <.05).

Conclusion: Covered expandable metallic stents were placed in 61 patients with ERFs, but the initial clinical success rate was poor and the rate of reopening was high; however, interventional treatment was effective for sealing off reopened ERFs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bronchial Fistula / diagnostic imaging
  • Bronchial Fistula / etiology
  • Bronchial Fistula / therapy*
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Carcinoma, Bronchogenic / complications
  • Esophageal Fistula / diagnostic imaging
  • Esophageal Fistula / etiology
  • Esophageal Fistula / therapy*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / complications
  • Esophageal Stenosis / etiology
  • Esophageal Stenosis / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care*
  • Radiography, Interventional
  • Recurrence
  • Respiratory Tract Fistula / diagnostic imaging
  • Respiratory Tract Fistula / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Fistula / therapy*
  • Stents* / adverse effects
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / diagnostic imaging
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / etiology
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / therapy