Early enteral feeding on esophageal cancer patients after esophageal resection and reconstruction

Ann Palliat Med. 2020 May;9(3):816-823. doi: 10.21037/apm.2020.04.13. Epub 2020 Apr 16.


Background: In patients under esophagectomy, early postoperative oral feeding has traditionally been contraindicated to minimize the risk of anastomotic leaks. Because early oral feeding preserves the integrity and function of gut mucosa, the aim of this study was to investigate the impact of postoperative early oral feeding on esophagectomy.

Methods: Between Oct 2013 and Jan 2016, 41 consecutive patients with esophageal carcinoma (stages I- III), who had undergone minimally invasive Ivor-Lewis surgery, were enrolled in this study. The patients were randomly arranged into the early oral feeding (EOF) group (21 cases) and the simple tube feeding (STF) group (20 cases). The nutritional goal for both groups was 25 kcal/(kg·day). The patients in the EOF group were tube-fed with enteral nutrition and orally fed with 5% glucose in normal saline during the first 4 postoperative days, after that the patients were placed on a liquid diet. The patients in the STF group were postoperatively tube-fed with enteral nutrition for 7 days before being switched to liquid diet. The length of the postoperative hospital stay, rate of perioperative complications, and overall mortality were recorded. Preoperative and postoperative levels of serum albumin (ALB), prealbumin (PA), transferrin (TP), and C reactive protein (CRP) were also monitored.

Results: There were no significant differences of the incidence of postoperative complications and overall mortality between the EOF group and the STF group, but the duration of hospital stay, interval until the first liquid food, and time of ambulation in the EOF group were lower than those of the STF group (P<0.05). EOF patients also showed significantly lower CRP levels compared with the STF group (P<0.05).

Conclusions: EOF might reduce the duration of hospital stays and CRP levels in esophageal cancer patients who underwent esophagectomy while the mortality and complications were not affected.

Keywords: Early oral feeding; esophageal carcinoma; esophagectomy; nutrition.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Enteral Nutrition*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / rehabilitation
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Esophagectomy*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Postoperative Complications