The sensitivity of fluoroscopic esophagrams with oral contrast to exclude anastomotic leak after esophagectomy is not well-documented, and the consequences of missing a leak in this setting have not been previously described.We performed a retrospective cohort study of a prospectively maintained institutional database of patients undergoing esophagectomy with esophagogastric anastomosis 2008-2020. Relevant details regarding leaks, management, and outcomes were obtained from the database and formal chart review. Statistical analysis was performed to compare patients with and without leaks, and those with false negative versus positive esophagrams.There were 384 patients who underwent esophagectomy with gastric reconstruction: the majority were Ivor-Lewis (82%), and 51% were wholly or partially minimally-invasive. Using a broad definition of leak, 55 patients (16.7%) developed an anastomotic leak. Twenty-seven of the 55 patients (49%) who ultimately were found to have a leak initially had a negative esophagram (performed on average on postoperative day 6). Those with a negative initial esophagram were more likely to have an uncontained leak (81% vs. 29%, p<0.01), require unplanned readmission (70% vs. 39%, p=0.02), and undergo reoperation (44% vs. 11%, p<0.01).Early postoperative esophagrams intended to evaluate anastomotic integrity have a low sensitivity of 51%, and leaks missed on initial esophagram have greater clinical consequences than those identified on initial esophagram. These findings suggest a high index of suspicion must be maintained even after a normal esophagram and calls into question the common practice of using this test to triage patients for diet advancement.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2022.04.053
View details for PubMedID 35618049