Esophagus| Volume 171, ISSUE 5, P1257-1262, May 2022

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The impact of cervical anastomotic leak after esophagectomy on long-term survival of patients with esophageal cancer

Published:November 06, 2021DOI:



      Anastomotic leak is a major complication after esophagectomy. There is a paucity of data on long-term oncological outcomes of cervical anastomotic leak after esophagectomy for cancer. We evaluated the impact of such a leak on postoperative outcomes as well as on long-term oncological outcomes.


      A retrospective analysis of a prospectively maintained database of patients with esophageal cancer who underwent esophagectomy with a cervical esophagogastric anastomosis between 2010 and 2017. Patients were divided into 3 groups: patients with no anastomotic leak; patients with nonsevere (type 1 & 2) leak, and patients with severe (type 3) leak. A comparison of postoperative and long-term oncological outcomes was made between the groups.


      Two hundred and eight patients were included in this study. Thirty-two (15%) patients had cervical anastomotic leak, of which 20 (63%) had type 1 and 2 (nonsevere) leak, and 12 (37%) had type 3 (severe) leak. Overall, 30-day mortality rate was 7%. Mortality rate was 4% in patients without leak, 15% in patients with nonsevere leak, and 25% in patients with severe anastomotic leak (P = .007). Overall median survival was 42 months. Patients with severe leak had poorer overall survival compared to patients with nonsevere and no anastomotic leak (6, 38, and 39 months, respectively, P = .011). There was no difference in disease-free survival of patients with or without anastomotic leak.


      Leakage from cervical anastomosis after esophagectomy had no impact on disease-free survival of patients with esophageal cancer. Severe anastomotic leak was associated with lower overall survival, probably due to a high rate of postoperative mortality.
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