Management of malignant esophagotracheal fistulas with airway stenting and double stenting

Chest. 1996 Nov;110(5):1155-60. doi: 10.1378/chest.110.5.1155.


Prognosis of inoperable or recurrent esophageal carcinoma is, at best, poor. Once an esophagotracheal fistula has developed, the overall condition of the patient declines rapidly. Aspiration pneumonia and severe coughing are common. The introduction of esophageal tubes does not always seal the fistula sufficiently and may compromise the airway causing stridor and dyspnea. In 30 patients (25 male, 5 female; age 23 to 74 years; mean, 56 years) with very large fistulas and airway problems, we inserted an airway stent (Dynamic) (n = 12) or an esophageal tube combined with a Dynamic airway stent (n = 18) with the aim of sealing the fistula and restoring patency of the airway and GI passage. The tracheobronchial Dynamic stent was chosen because its slightly concave, flexible posterior silicone membrane adapts ideally to the convex esophageal tube. The stents were well tolerated and significantly improved the quality of life. Of 30 patients, 16 could breathe and swallow unimpaired until shortly before their death. Moderate complaints persisted in five patients, dysphagia in eight patients, and dyspnea in one patient. Mean survival time in the double stent group was significantly greater (110 days) than in the airway stent-only group (24 days) or comparable groups in the literature treated with esophageal tubes only. We conclude that carefully selected patients can benefit from double stenting of esophagus and airways.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology
  • Airway Obstruction / therapy
  • Carcinoma / complications*
  • Cough / etiology
  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Equipment Design
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / complications*
  • Esophagus
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intubation / instrumentation
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / etiology
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Respiration
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology
  • Silicones
  • Stents*
  • Surface Properties
  • Survival Rate
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / etiology
  • Tracheoesophageal Fistula / therapy*


  • Silicones