Esophageal anastomotic strictures: outcomes of endoscopic dilation, risk of recurrence and refractory stenosis, and effect of foreign body removal

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 Feb;13(2):263-271.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2014.07.010. Epub 2014 Jul 11.


Background & aims: Esophageal anastomotic strictures often require repeat dilation to relieve dysphagia. Little is known about factors that affect their remediation. We investigated long-term success and rates of recurrence or refractoriness after dilation and factors associated with refractory stenosis.

Methods: We performed a retrospective study of 74 patients with an anastomotic stricture that had been dilated during a 5-year period (564 dilations; median follow-up period, 8 months). A stricture was refractory if luminal patency could not be maintained after ≥5 dilation sessions during 10 weeks.

Results: Of the 74 patients, 93% had initial relief of dysphagia. The stricture recurred in 43% of patients, and 69% were considered refractory. Removal of sutures/staples protruding into the lumen did not accelerate time to initial patency (median, 37 days; interquartile range [IQR], 20-82 days) or lengthen the dysphagia-free interval (37.4 days; IQR, 8-41 weeks), compared with patients who did not undergo removal (initial patency, median 55 days; IQR, 14-109 days; P = .66 and median dysphagia-free interval, 21.7 days; IQR, 9-64 weeks; P = .8). Use of fluoroscopy during dilation (odds ratio, 8.92; 95% confidence interval, 1.98-40.14) was positively associated with development of refractory strictures, whereas neoadjuvant chemotherapy (odds ratio, 0.28; 95% confidence interval, 0.07-0.97) was inversely associated. Female sex and distal location of strictures increased risk of refractoriness as effect modifiers in multivariate analysis.

Conclusions: Endoscopic dilation is highly successful in achieving luminal remediation, yet anastomotic strictures are often refractory and frequently recur. Removal of sutures/staples within the lumen does not help achieve patency. Need for fluoroscopic guidance indicates a high likelihood of refractoriness to dilation, whereas prior neoadjuvant chemotherapy indicates a lower risk.

Keywords: Esophageal Anastomotic Strictures; Foreign Body Removal; Recurrence; Refractory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anastomosis, Surgical / adverse effects*
  • Endoscopy / methods*
  • Esophageal Stenosis / therapy*
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies / complications*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult