Esophagorespiratory fistulas of tumorous origin. Non-operative management of 264 cases in a 20-year period

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2008 Nov;34(5):1103-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcts.2008.06.025. Epub 2008 Aug 3.


Objective: Esophagorespiratory fistulas developing from malignant tumors have serious complications by maintaining continuous airway contamination. The objective was to reveal the incidence, causes and characteristics of fistula formation and to examine the possibilities and efficiency of the treatment.

Methods: In a single-center study between 1984 and 2004, the data of 2113 patients with tumorous esophageal stenosis were analyzed. Esophagorespiratory fistulas were detected in 264 cases (12.5%). Successful esophageal intubation, stent correction or replacement was performed in 188 cases, while there was one lethal complication. Twenty-seven patients had an intervention for nutritional support: 25 gastrostomies, 1 jejunostomy and 1 percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy.

Results: The mean survival period of all patients was 2.8 months; patients with implanted endoprosthesis 3.4 months; with nutritional support 1.1 months and with only supportive therapy 1.3 months, respectively. The differences between the endoprosthesis implanted group and the other two groups were significant (p<0.001).

Conclusions: By sealing the fistula, a successful endoscopic esophageal intubation ends the severe respiratory contamination and the inability to swallow, improving the quality of life and survival period. After the procedure, it is the malignant tumor and not the fistula that determines the future of the patient.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Esophageal Fistula / etiology
  • Esophageal Fistula / therapy*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / complications
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Esophageal Stenosis / complications
  • Esophageal Stenosis / epidemiology
  • Esophageal Stenosis / therapy*
  • Esophagoscopy / adverse effects
  • Esophagoscopy / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Gastrointestinal / adverse effects
  • Intubation, Gastrointestinal / methods
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prosthesis Implantation / adverse effects
  • Quality of Life
  • Respiratory Tract Fistula / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Fistula / therapy*
  • Stents
  • Survival Analysis
  • Weight Loss
  • Young Adult