Indexed on: 14 Feb '09Published on: 14 Feb '09Published in: General Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Chemoradiotherapy has become a popular definitive therapy among many patients and oncologists for potentially resectable esophageal carcinoma. Although the complete response rates are high and short-term survival is favorable after chemoradiotherapy, persistent or recurrent locoregional disease is quite frequent. Salvage surgery is the sole curative intent treatment option for this course. As experience with definitive chemoradiotherapy grows, the number of salvage surgeries may increase. Selected articles about salvage esophagectomy after definitive chemoradiotherapy for esophageal carcinoma are reviewed. The number of salvage surgeries was significantly lower than the number of expected candidates. To identify candidates for salvage surgery, patients undergoing definitive chemoradiotherapy should be followed up carefully. Salvage esophagectomy is difficult when dissecting fibrotic masses from irradiated tissues. Patients who underwent salvage esophagectomy had increased morbidity and mortality. Pulmonary complications such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome were common. The anastomotic leak rate was significantly increased because of the effects of the radiation administered to the tissues used as conduits. The most significant factor associated with long-term survival appeared to be complete resection. However, precise evaluation of resectability before operation was difficult. Nevertheless, increased morbidity and mortality will be acceptable in exchange for potential long-term survival after salvage esophagectomy. Such treatment should be considered for carefully selected patients at specialized centers.