Late swallowing and aspiration problems after esophagectomy for cancer: malignant infiltration of the recurrent laryngeal nerves and its management

Surgery. 1992 Sep;112(3):533-5.


One hundred eleven patients who underwent esophagectomy for squamous carcinoma of the esophagus were followed up during a 42-month period. Forty-three patients who had normal swallowing in the postoperative period had recurrent dysphagia on follow-up. The causes were benign anastomotic stricture (n = 15), malignant anastomotic recurrence (n = 2), recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy (n = 22), and no known cause (n = 4). Twenty-six patients were assessed by laryngoscopy and 15 were deemed suitable for Teflon injection of the vocal cord. All but one patient had improved swallowing and phonation after the procedure. Mean survival time after Teflon injection was 5 1/2 months. A significant proportion of swallowing problems after esophagectomy are not caused by mechanical obstruction. Teflon injection of a unilateral paralyzed vocal cord provides good palliation in these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery*
  • Deglutition*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Esophagectomy*
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Nerves / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Respiration*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / etiology*
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis / therapy