Management of delayed esophageal perforations after anterior cervical spinal surgery

Clinical article

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Object

Delayed esophageal perforation is an uncommon but well-known complication after anterior cervical spine surgery. To the authors' knowledge there is no consensus to the optimal management of these patients in the literature.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective review of 5 cases involving patients who were referred to their institution for the management of delayed esophageal perforations after undergoing anterior cervical spine surgery for a variety of reasons.

Results

The primary presenting symptom in all 5 patients was dysphagia. All patients initially underwent primary closure of the perforation with a sternocleidomastoid muscle flap. One patient required multiple surgeries to correct the perforation and ultimately required a free flap.

Conclusions

The authors recommend a multidisciplinary approach that involves otolaryngological surgeons as well as spine surgeons. They recommend removal of all anterior hardware and believe that it is essential to the treatment of esophageal perforations. If the patient does not have evidence of fusion at the time of presentation, then posterior cervical instrumentation is a viable alternative.

Abbreviations used in this paper: ACDF = anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; SCM = sternocleidomastoid.
Article Information

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to: Fernando L. Vale, M.D., 2A Columbia Drive, Suite 850, Tampa, Florida 33606. email: fvale@health.usf.edu.

© Copyright 1944-2019 American Association of Neurological Surgeons

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