Background: Fistulae between the tracheobronchial tree and the gastric conduit post-esophagectomy are a rare but sometimes fatal complication. Clinical presentation can range from asymptomatic to acute pulmonary decompensation. Traditional management options, such as esophageal exclusion alone or combined with transthoracic fistula division, and closure (with tissue interposition), are highly invasive, technically difficult, and associated with variable success rates. This video presents closure of highly complex, chronic esophagobronchial fistula (EBF) using simultaneous bronchoscopic and upper endoscopic techniques.
Methods: Diagnostic bronchoscopy and upper endoscopy are performed to assess the size and location of fistulae. Fistulae with sufficient luminal size to accommodate a biologic plug were selected for treatment. Steps of EBF plug insertion. (1) Wire across fistula with ends exposed through the mouth. (2) Delivery sheath passed across wire from bronchial side to esophageal side (3) Plug loaded on the esophageal side of the sheath. (4) Plug pulled into position across the fistula from esophageal to bronchial side. (5) Delivery sheath released from bronchial side.
Results: Two of four fistulae were suitable for plug therapy. A temporary covered-stent was placed to help maintain the plugs in place. Endoscopy at 1 month showed healing of the plugged fistula following stent removal. Respiratory symptoms were improved with no further episodes of pneumonia. Over course of 2 years, the patient has required three additional endoscopic procedures to control new fistulae from this broad area of exposed lung paranchyma, but the initial fistula plug repair is durable.
Conclusion: Post-esophagectomy fistula is a morbid complication and the surgical treatments available are highly morbid and have variable success rates. Due to the development of new endoscopic technologies, the endotherapy has assumed new prominence for treatment of enteric fistula. This complex case illustrates feasibility of endoscopic fistula treatment using dual scope, biologic plug application which effectively controlled this patient's EBF symptoms.