Background: Definitive chemoradiotherapy (CRT) is one treatment option for locally advanced oesophageal carcinoma. CRT typically consists of high-dose (50-66 Gy) external beam radiotherapy concurrent with 5-fluorouracil and cisplatin. When definitive CRT fails to achieve local control, salvage oesophagectomy is frequently the only treatment available that can offer a chance of long-term survival.
Methods: Online databases were searched for publications relating to salvage oesophagectomy and definitive CRT. Nine series containing a total of 105 patients were reviewed. Demographics, indications for surgery, type of resection, complications and outcome data were extracted.
Results: Each centre performed one to three salvage resections per year comprising 1.7-4.1 per cent of the oesophagectomy workload. The overall anastomotic leak rate was 17.1 per cent. The in-hospital mortality rate was 11.4 per cent. Five-year survival rates of 25-35 per cent were achieved. Prognostic factors for increased survival were R0 resection (P = 0.006) and longer interval between CRT and recurrence (P = 0.002).
Conclusion: Salvage resection after CRT is feasible for selected patients but is a formidable undertaking. Restaging investigations after CRT for potentially resectable tumours in fit candidates should include endoscopy and positron emission tomography-computed tomography. Salvage oesophagectomy is carried out with the goal of cure and it should be attempted only if an R0 resection is technically possible.
Copyright (c) 2007 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.