Complications of percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy in head and neck cancer patients

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 1992 Jan;101(1):46-50. doi: 10.1177/000348949210100113.


Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) has been shown to benefit patients with resectable carcinoma of the head and neck. In order to determine whether patients with existing tumor or postresection anatomic changes of the upper respiratory tract can undergo this procedure with an acceptably low complication rate, 349 patients with attempted PEG were studied. The PEG procedure was successful in 114 of 122 carcinoma patients, as compared to 220 of 227 patients in a control group (patients with neurologic disease). Intraoperative complications preventing PEG placement included pharyngeal or esophageal obstruction, inadequate transillumination of the abdominal wall, and respiratory distress and occurred in 7% of carcinoma patients and 3% of controls. The incidence of airway obstruction during endoscopy was equal between groups (1%). Postoperative complications related to the gastrostomy tube were more frequent in the non-head and neck cancer group (14% versus 5%). Younger age, fewer concomitant medical problems, and better nutritional status may account for this difference. These findings suggest that preoperative, postoperative, and unresectable head and neck cancer patients are appropriate candidates for PEG, and postgastrostomy performance appears superior to that in other patient populations.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Enteral Nutrition
  • Gastroscopy*
  • Gastrostomy / adverse effects*
  • Gastrostomy / methods
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Punctures / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies