Palliative treatment of malignant esophagorespiratory fistulas with Gianturco-Z stents. A prospective clinical trial and review of the literature on covered metal stents

Am J Gastroenterol. 1998 Apr;93(4):532-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.1998.160_b.x.


Objective: Esophagorespiratory fistulas, especially in the upper third of the esophagus, are a complication of malignant esophageal tumors, which are difficult to manage. The efficacy of polyurethane-covered, self-expanding metal stents for palliation of malignant esophagorespiratory fistulas was investigated prospectively.

Methods: Eleven patients with malignant esophagorespiratory fistulas resp. perforations were treated with Gianturco-Z stents. In five patients the lesion was located in the proximal part of the esophagus. Because of the fistula all patients suffered from dysphagia even for liquids.

Results: No technical problems during the implantation procedure of the stents occurred. In the control radiography with water-soluble contrast media, the fistulas were completely sealed in 10 of 11 patients. Therefore the dysphagia score improved from 3.0 to 0.6. Nearly all Gianturco-Z stents (10/11) showed a sufficient expansion within 24 h after placement. Severe early or late complications were not encountered, with the exception of tumor overgrowth in one patient about 9 months after stent placement. In five patients, short term (3-6 days) retrosternal pain was observed, and one patient complained of slight foreign body sensation. By August 1997 all 11 patients had died of advanced disease, with a median survival time of 121 days (range, 22-300 days).

Conclusions: Gianturco-Z stents are highly effective for palliative treatment of esophagorespiratory fistula resp. perforations and have a low complication rate. Due to the fact that this stent shows no retraction during the release, a precise positioning is possible, especially in the case of tumors and fistulas in the upper third of the esophagus. It seems that use of the Gianturco-Z stent can be considered a good therapeutic method for palliative endoscopic treatment of this high risk patient group.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / complications*
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Esophageal Fistula / etiology
  • Esophageal Fistula / therapy*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Tract Fistula / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Fistula / therapy*
  • Stents* / adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome