Acquired benign esophagorespiratory fistula: report of 16 consecutive cases

Ann Thorac Surg. 1990 Nov;50(5):724-7. doi: 10.1016/0003-4975(90)90670-2.


Sixteen cases of acquired benign esophagorespiratory fistula were treated in a 20-year period. A delay in diagnosis was usual, and most patients were first seen with a pulmonary infection already developed. Contrast esophageal x-ray studies established the diagnosis in all patients. There were seven esophagotracheal and nine esophagobronchial fistulas. A fistula between the esophageal diverticulum and a bronchus considered to be of inflammatory origin developed in 7 patients. A fistula as the consequence of trauma developed in 9 patients, and these fistulas were situated at a higher level of the respiratory tree. All patients underwent surgical treatment; in 12 it was definitive, and in 4 temporary gastrostomy was performed to improve nutrition before definite repair. The definitive repair consisted of eventual diverticulectomy, division of the fistula, and suture of both esophageal and respiratory defects. Two patients required esophageal resection and later reconstruction with colon interposition. One patient died, creating an operative mortality of 8.3% in the definitive-repair group. The remaining 11 patients had a gratifying long-term result. There were two deaths in the gastrostomy group due to an extremely poor condition of patients and debilitating pulmonary infection. Early diagnosis of this rare condition is necessary if severe pulmonary complications are to be avoided. Early direct repair gives excellent results.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bronchial Fistula / diagnostic imaging
  • Bronchial Fistula / surgery*
  • Esophageal Fistula / diagnostic imaging
  • Esophageal Fistula / surgery*
  • Gastrostomy / mortality
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Survival Rate
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / diagnostic imaging
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / surgery*