Incidence and treatment of mediastinal leakage after esophagectomy: Insights from the multicenter study on mediastinal leaks

Uberto Fumagalli, Gian Luca Baiocchi, Andrea Celotti, Paolo Parise, Andrea Cossu, Luigi Bonavina, Daniele Bernardi, Giovanni De Manzoni, Jacopo Weindelmayer, Giuseppe Verlato, Stefano Santi, Giovanni Pallabazzer, Nazario Portolani, Maurizio Degiuli, Rossella Reddavid, Stefano De Pascale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND Mediastinal leakage (ML) is one of the most feared complications of esophagectomy. A standard strategy for its diagnosis and treatment has been difficult to establish because of the great variability in their incidence and mortality rates reported in the existing series. AIM To assess the incidence, predictive factors, treatment, and associated mortality rate of mediastinal leakage using the standardized definition of mediastinal leaks recently proposed by the Esophagectomy Complications Consensus Group (ECCG). METHODS Seven Italian surgical centers (five high-volume, two low-volume) affiliated with the Italian Society for the Study of Esophageal Diseases designed and implemented a retrospective study including all esophagectomies (n = 501) with intrathoracic esophagogastric anastomosis performed from 2014 to 2017. Anastomotic MLs were defined according to the classification recently proposed by the ECCG. RESULTS Fifty-nine cases of ML were recorded, yielding an overall incidence of 11.8% (95%CI: 9.1%-14.9%). The surgical approach significantly influenced the occurrence of ML: the proportion of leakage was 10.5% and 9% after open and hybrid esophagectomy (HE), respectively, and doubled (20%) after totally minimally invasive esophagectomy (TMIE) (P = 0.016). No other predictive factors were found. The 30- and 90-d overall mortality rates were 1.4% and 3.2%, respectively; the 30- and 90-d leak-related mortality rates were 5.1% and 10.2%, respectively; the 90-d mortality rates for TMIE and HE were 5.9% and 1.8%, respectively. Endoscopy was the first-line treatment in 49% of ML cases, with the need for retreatment in 17.2% of cases. Surgery was needed in 44.1% of ML cases. Endoscopic treatment had the lowest mortality rate (6.9%). Removal of the gastric tube with stoma formation was necessary in 8 (13.6%) cases. CONCLUSION The incidence of ML after esophagectomy was high mainly in the TMIE group. However, the general and specific (leak-related) mortality rates were low. Early treatment (surgical or endoscopic) of severe leaks is mandatory to limit related mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-366
Number of pages11
JournalWorld Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 21 2019


  • Esophagectomy complications
  • Mediastinal leak
  • Minimally invasive esophagectomy
  • Transthoracic esophagectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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