Post-Intubation Tracheoesophageal Fistula; A Nine-Year Experience

Document Type : Original Article


1 General thoracic surgeon, Lung Transplantation Research Center, National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (NRITLD), Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Massih Daneshvari Hospital, Tehran, Iran

2 General thoracic surgeon, Tracheal Diseases Research Center, National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Massih Daneshvari Hospital, Tehran, Iran

3 General practitioner, Lung Transplantation Research Center, National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (NRITLD), Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Massih Daneshvari Hospital, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: Tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) is a rare condition, which could be life-threatening if diagnosed late or mismanaged. Post-intubation TEF is the most common form of acquired, non-malignant TEF and is usually associated with tracheal stenosis, which makes the treatment more challenging. Here, we present our experience of managing 21 patients with post-intubation TEF.  
Materials & Methods: Twenty one patients including seven women and fourteen men with mean age of 38.05 years, who had post-intubation TEF were managed in our center (Massih Daneshvari Hospital, Tehran, Iran) during 2004-2013. None of the patients were operated before weaning from mechanical ventilation. Single division and closure of the fistula was performed in one patient who did not have accompanying tracheal stenosis. One-stage surgical repair including tracheal resection, anastomosis, primary closure of the esophageal defect, and muscle flap Interposition was the main treatment method in all other cases. Patients were followed up for at least two years.
Results: Excellent and good results achieved in 85.7% of our patients. Major complications including permanent vocal cord paralysis and recurrence of tracheal stenosis necessitating T-tube insertion occurred in two patients (9.5%). Severe cachexia and sepsis secondary to sputum retention resulted in one mortality (4.8%).
Conclusion: Surgery might provide the best treatment results along with low mortality and morbidity rates in post-intubation TEFs if performed within the proper time.


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