Background: Esophageal occlusion is typically caused by cancer or postradiation changes; it is difficult to treat, with poor surgical outcomes. The combined antegrade retrograde dilation (CARD) method has been used to endoscopically restore the esophageal lumen after complete occlusion by cancer or postradiation changes, with good preliminary results. Reproducing this technique and improving its speed and convenience would be advances in treating this difficult clinical problem.
Objective: A demonstration of 2 alternative endoscopic techniques for treating complete esophageal obstructions.
Design: The CARD method was performed in 2 patients with unresectable cancer and complete esophageal occlusion. In the first patient, a needle knife was used to cut through the obstruction, instead of removing it piecemeal with biopsy forceps before over-the-wire dilation. In the second patient, an EUS needle was used to cross a particularly long obstruction, which allowed subsequent dilation and recanalization.
Setting: A tertiary referral center.
Patients: Two patients with complete esophageal obstruction secondary to head and neck cancer, with associated radiation therapy.
Results: In both cases, this method resulted in successful recanalization of the occluded lumen in a relatively short amount of time, without complications.
Limitations: The small number of patients in this series.
Conclusions: The CARD needle-knife method may be a safe, effective, and efficient approach to complete esophageal occlusion. In addition, the CARD-EUS needle method may be an preferable technique to cross long obstructions quickly; however, more experience will be required.