Background: Endosonographic staging of esophageal carcinoma may be limited in one third of cases by tumor stenoses that cannot be traversed with conventional echoendoscopes. We designed and evaluated a new endosonographic instrument (ultrasonic esophagoprobe) for TNM staging of highly stenosing esophageal carcinomas.
Methods: Eighty-seven consecutive patients (64 men, mean age 61 years) with highly stenosing esophageal carcinomas were studied with the esophagoprobe (features: diameter of 7.9 mm, bougie-shaped tip, no fiber optics, insertion over a guide wire).
Results: The esophagoprobe was successfully inserted past the stenosis without complication in all patients. Nine patients (10%) required preliminary bougienage to 33 F. The imaging quality was high and allowed for complete T and N staging in all patients. M staging was indeterminate in 15 patients because of inadequate visualization of the celiac axis region. Histopathologic correlation in 38 patients who underwent surgery showed an overall T stage accuracy rate of 89% (T2 = 80%, T3 = 95%, T4 = 87%), and N and M stage accuracies of 79% (N0 = 44%, N1 = 90%) and 91% (M0 = 94%, M1 = 75%), respectively.
Conclusions: The esophagoprobe enables safe passage of highly stenosing esophageal carcinomas for TNM staging. Accuracy rates are similar to those reported for conventional echoendoscopes.