Introduction: Perioperative complications influence long- and short-term outcomes after esophagectomy. The absence of a standardized system for defining and recording complications and quality measures after esophageal resection has meant that there is wide variation in evaluating their impact on these outcomes.
Methods: The Esophageal Complications Consensus Group comprised 21 high-volume esophageal surgeons from 14 countries, supported by all the major thoracic and upper gastrointestinal professional societies. Delphi surveys and group meetings were used to achieve a consensus on standardized methods for defining complications and quality measures that could be collected in institutional databases and national audits.
Results: A standardized list of complications was created to provide a template for recording individual complications associated with esophagectomy. Where possible, these were linked to preexisting international definitions. A Delphi survey facilitated production of specific definitions for anastomotic leak, conduit necrosis, chyle leak, and recurrent nerve palsy. An additional Delphi survey documented consensus regarding critical quality parameters recommended for routine inclusion in databases. These quality parameters were documentation on mortality, comorbidities, completeness of data collection, blood transfusion, grading of complication severity, changes in level of care, discharge location, and readmission rates.
Conclusions: The proposed system for defining and recording perioperative complications associated with esophagectomy provides an infrastructure to standardize international data collection and facilitate future comparative studies and quality improvement projects.