Indexed on: 16 Apr '10Published on: 16 Apr '10Published in: Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
This article illustrates our operative technique for pharyngostomy tube placement and describes our clinical experience with pharyngostomy use for gastric conduit decompression after esophagectomy.We retrospectively reviewed patients undergoing pharyngostomy tube placement for gastric conduit decompression after esophagectomy from January 2008 to August 2009. Patients were included if they had a pharyngostomy tube placed at esophagectomy (prophylactic placement) or as a means of decompression after postesophagectomy anastomotic leak (therapeutic placement). We collected operative and clinical data and performed a descriptive statistical analysis.We placed 25 pharyngostomy tubes for gastric conduit decompression after esophagectomy. Eleven were placed prophylactically (44%); the remaining 14 were placed therapeutically (56%) after anastomotic leak. Prophylactic pharyngostomy tubes remained in place a median of 8 days (range 4-17 days), whereas therapeutic pharyngostomy tubes were left in place a median of 15 days (range 7-125 days). There were 4 infectious complications (16%) unrelated to length of pharyngostomy use: 2 cases of cellulitis (resolved with antibiotics, tube remaining in place) and 2 superficial abscesses after tube removal requiring bedside débridement. Seventy-two percent of patients underwent swallow evaluation; 22% of these patients had radiographic evidence of aspiration.Pharyngostomy tube placement for gastric conduit decompression after esophagectomy is simple, and tubes can stay in place for prolonged periods. Our experience suggests that pharyngostomy tubes are a safe alternative to nasogastric drainage.