Objective: The objective of this study was to compare the hand-sewn and stapled methods in esophagogastric anastomosis.
Summary background data: After esophageal resection for cancer, the relative merits of the hand-sewn and the stapled methods of esophagogastric anastomosis, especially regarding leakage and stricture rates, have not adequately been studied.
Methods: A prospective randomized controlled trial was undertaken in 122 patients with squamous cell cancer of the thoracic esophagus who underwent a Lewis-Tanner esophagectomy. Patients were stratified according to esophageal size, based on the diameter of the divided esophagus (< or > or = 30 mm) and then were randomized to have either a hand-sewn or a stapled anastomosis.
Results: The mean total operating times (standard error of the mean) when the hand-sewn and the stapled methods were used were 214 (4) minutes and 217 (3.4) minutes, respectively (p = not significant [NS]). The respective in vivo proximal resection margins (standard error of the mean) were 8 (0.4) cm and 7.6 (0.4) cm (p = NS). Leakage rates were 1.6% and 4.9% (p = NS). Excluding hospital deaths, patients with leakage or anastomotic recurrence, and those who received radiation therapy to histologically infiltrated resection margin, anastomotic stricture was found in 5 (9.1%) of 55 patients in the hand-sewn group and 20 (40%) of 50 in the stapler group (p = 0.0003). The difference in stricture rates was significant in small as well as large esophagi. Anastomotic recurrence developed in only one patient in each group.
Conclusions: The authors conclude that both methods were safe, but the stapled technique resulted in more stricture formation.