Background: Insertion of coated expandable esophageal stents is the preferred endoscopic palliative treatment for malignant dysphagia and digestive-respiratory fistulae.
Methods: One hundred one patients with malignant dysphagia and digestive-respiratory fistulae, 83 due to esophageal cancer and 18 due to metastatic disease, underwent placement of a coated expandable metal stent. Thirteen patients had a digestive-respiratory fistula. The stricture location (99 patients) was proximal in 11, mid in 29, distal in 37, and at the gastroesophageal junction in 24. The endoscopic appearance was exophytic in 80, infiltrative in 19, single ulcer in 1, and normal in 1. The mean stricture length was 6.7 cm.
Results: Initial stent placement was successful in 100 patients; a second stent was required in 1. The median dysphagia grade improved from 3.6 to 1.4 and sealing-off of the digestive-respiratory fistula was successful in all cases. The overall complication rate was 37.9%. Life-threatening complications occurred in 7.9%. There were no procedure-related deaths. During a mean follow-up of 201 days, 99 patients died-none from stent-related problems.
Conclusions: This large series confirms the efficacy of the coated metal expandable stent in the palliation of malignant dysphagia and digestive-respiratory fistula with an acceptable complication rate.