Esophagectomy for high grade dysplasia is safe, curative, and results in good alimentary outcome

J Gastrointest Surg. 2007 Dec;11(12):1589-97. doi: 10.1007/s11605-007-0330-9. Epub 2007 Oct 2.


Background: The increasing adoption of endoscopic therapies and expectant surveillance for patients with high grade dysplasia (HGD) in Barrett's esophagus has created considerable controversy regarding the ideal treatment choice. Confusion may be due, in part, to a limited understanding of the outcomes associated with surgical resection for HGD and extrapolation of data derived from patients undergoing an esophagectomy for invasive cancer. The purpose of our study was to document the perioperative and symptomatic outcomes and long-term survival after esophagectomy for HGD of the esophagus.

Material and methods: The study population consisted of 38 patients who underwent esophagectomy for biopsy-proven HGD between 10/1999 and 6/2005. Three patients were excluded from analysis due to obvious tumor on upper endoscopy. Patients were evaluated regarding ten different foregut symptoms and administered a ten-question appraisal of eating and bowel habits. Outcome measures included postoperative morbidity and mortality, the prevalence of invasive cancer in the esophagectomy specimens, symptomatic and functional alimentary results, patient satisfaction, and long-term survival. Median follow-up was 32 months (range, 7-83).

Results: Thirty-day postoperative and in-hospital mortality was zero. Complications occurred in 37% (13/35), and median length of stay was 10 days. Occult adenocarcinoma was found in 29% (10/35) of surgical specimens (intramucosal in four; submucosal in five; and intramuscular in one with a single positive lymph node.) Patients consumed a median of three meals per day, most (76%, 26/34) had no dietary restrictions, and two-thirds (23/34) considered their eating pattern to be normal or only mildly impacted. Meal size, however, was reported to be smaller in the majority (79%, 27/34) of patients. Median body mass index (BMI) decreased slightly after surgery (28.6 vs 26.6, p>0.05), but no patient's BMI went below normal. The number of bowel movements/day was unchanged or less in a majority (82%) of patients after surgery. Fifteen of 34 (44%) patients reported loose bowel movements, which occurred less often than once per week in 10 of the 15. One patient had symptoms of dumping. Mean symptom severity scores improved for all symptoms except dysphagia and choking. Four patients developed foregut symptoms that occurred daily. Most patients (82%) required at least one postoperative dilation for dysphagia. Almost all (97%) patients were satisfied. Disease-free survival was 100%, and overall survival was 97% (34/35) at a median of 32 months.

Conclusion: Esophagectomy is an effective and curative treatment for HGD and can be performed with no mortality, acceptable morbidity, and good alimentary outcome. These data provide a gold standard for comparison to alternative therapies.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Barrett Esophagus / pathology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Esophagectomy*
  • Esophagus / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Treatment Outcome