European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery vol:24 issue:2 pages:179-86; discussion 186
OBJECTIVE: Very few studies have examined post-operative morbidity after resection of oesophageal carcinoma, especially in patients treated with induction chemo- and radiotherapy for locally advanced stages. This study assessed the effects of induction chemoradiotherapy on post-operative course after resection of locally advanced oesophageal carcinoma (cT3-4 + cM1lymph). METHODS: Induction therapy consisted of 5-fluorouracil days 1-5 and days 21-25, cisplatin day 1 + day 21 and concomitant radiotherapy 18-20 fractions of 2Gy (total dose 36-40Gy). Induction chemoradiotherapy was completed in 109 patients. Surgery was performed in 90 patients (operability: 90/109 = 83%): 85 patients underwent resection with curative intent (resectability: 85/109 = 78%), bypass operation was performed in five patients. Nineteen patients could not be operated on. Results were compared to a matched group of pT3M1LYM/pT4 patients (n = 86) who underwent primary surgery in the same period. RESULTS: Resection was complete (R0) in 68 patients (68/90 = 76%). Mean duration of surgery was 428 min (range: 240-690). Peroperative complications were haemorrhage in three patients (3/90 = 3.3%), tracheobronchial perforation in three patients (3/90 = 3.3%). Median total hospital stay was 20.5 days (range: 8-355). Mean duration of intubation was 7 days (range: 1-190); 67 patients (67/90 = 74.4%) were intubated for less than 24 h. Non-tumour related hospital mortality after resection was 8.3% (7/84 patients). Mortality after two-field lymphadenectomy was 5.2 versus 11.7% after three-field lymphadenectomy. After primary surgery (n = 86) overall mortality was 2.3% (P = 0.015) and nil after two- and three-field lymphadenectomy (P = 0.011). Medical morbidity consisted of pneumonia in 43 patients (43/90 = 48%), atelectasis in ten patients (10/90 = 11%), dysrhythmia in 21 patients (21/90 = 23%), sepsis in 11 patients (11/90 = 12%) and adult respiratory distress syndrome in ten patients (10/90 = 11%). Surgical morbidity included pleural effusion in 16 patients (16/90 = 18%), tracheal fistula in two patients (2/90 = 2%), chylothorax in two patients (2/90 = 2%) and acute pancreatitis in one patient (1/90 = 1%). Ten patients (10/90 = 11%) had a radiologically confirmed anastomotic leak; however only in four out of them with clinical manifestation; treatment was conservative in all four patients. Major morbidity occurred in 27 patients (27/90 = 30%). Overall rate of morbidity was significantly higher after three-field lymphadenectomy (85%) as compared to two-field lymphadenectomy (68.7%; P = 0.023). CONCLUSIONS: Chemoradiotherapy followed by resection of cT3-4 +/- cM1lymph oesophageal carcinoma is feasible with acceptable mortality. Mortality, however, seems to be significantly higher when compared to a group of pT3M1LYM/pT4 patients who underwent primary surgery (8.3 versus 2.3%; P = 0.015) in the same period in our department.