Aortoesophageal fistula: value of in situ aortic allograft replacement.

The purpose of this report is to describe our experience in management of aortoesophageal fistulas (AEF) with special emphasis on the value of in situ aortic allograft replacement.
Nine patients presenting with AEF were observed between May 1988 and April 2002. There were 4 men and 5 women with a mean age of 54.3 years (range, 32-77 years). Six patients presented secondary AEF after aortic repair. Two patients presented primary AEF after rupture of an atherosclerotic aneurysm into the esophagus. In the remaining patient, AEF was caused by swallowing a fishbone. In 6 cases involving true AEF with a direct communication between the aorta and esophagus, massive exsanguinating hematemesis occurred. It was usually preceded by minor sentinel bleeding. Two patients presented esophagoparaprosthetic fistula (EPPF). One patient presented primary AEF that was contained by a large thrombus in the communication. The clinical picture in these 3 patients involved severe sepsis without hemorrhage.
Two patients died as a result of massive hemorrhage before assessment and surgical treatment could be undertaken. One 77-year-old woman presenting EPPF refused to undergo surgery and died because of infection. The remaining 6 patients underwent surgical treatment with various outcomes. One man died during thoracotomy caused by exsanguinating hemorrhage. One woman presenting EPPF was treated by exclusion followed by ascending aorta to abdominal aorta bypass grafting, removal of the prosthesis, esophageal exclusion, and directed esophageal fistula. She died of infection. The other 4 patients were treated by in situ aortic allograft replacement. The damaged esophagus was repaired by using the Thal technique in 1 patient. In the remaining 3 cases subtotal esophagectomy was performed in association with cervical esophagostomy, ligation of the abdominal esophagus, gastrostomy, and jejunostomy. One patient died of sepsis during the first 24 hours after the operation. The other 3 patients underwent secondary esophagoplasty and survived with no further sign of infection. Mean duration of follow-up in the survivor group was 53 months (range, 15-95 months). Overall 6 patients, including 3 that did not undergo surgical treatment, died and 3 patients survived.
Our experience confirms that AEF is a rare but catastrophic disorder. In situ allograft replacement usually in association with subtotal esophagectomy appears to be an excellent salvage modality whenever emergency surgery is feasible.
AuthorsEdouard Kieffer, Laurent Chiche, Dominique Gomes
JournalAnnals of surgery (Ann Surg) Vol. 238 Issue 2 Pg. 283-90 (Aug 2003) ISSN: 0003-4932 [Print] United States
PMID12894023 (Publication Type: Journal Article)
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aorta, Abdominal (surgery)
  • Aorta, Thoracic (surgery)
  • Aortic Diseases (surgery)
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis Implantation
  • Esophageal Fistula (surgery)
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Vascular Fistula (surgery)

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