Endoscopic Incisional Therapy for Esophageal Strictures

MA Manfredi et al. JPGN 2018; 464-8. This retrospective chart review describes the use of endoscopic electrocautery incisional therapy as a treatment for refractory benign esophageal anastomotic strictures (n=57) from 2011-2017.

The authors define refractory as inability to achieve an adequate esophageal lumen diameter after 5 dilatations to the following:

  • Age <9 months: at least 8 mm
  • 9-23 months: at least 10 mm
  • 24 months to 5 years: at least 12 mm
  • 6 years or older: at least 14 mm

Key findings:

  • The median number of dilatations prior to EIT was 8 in the refractory group (n=36) and 3 in the nonrefractory group
  • In the 2 years following EIT the median number of dilatations was 2 in the refractory group and 1 in the nonrefractory group
  • Major complications were reported in 3 (2.3%) —>”non-contained” leak. All healed without surgical intervention. There were an additonal 4 cases of contained fluid leaks (total of 5.3% of esophageal leaks)
  • The authors had a 61% treatment success in children with refractory anastomotic strictures.  Their definition of success “no stricture resection, appropriate diameter for age, and fewer than 7 dilatations in the 2 years following the first EIT session.”
  • The authors note that patients were generally referred for stricture resection in the refractory group after the first or second EIT session IF there was not improvement in esophageal diameter.

Role of this therapy/technical aspects:

  • The authors note that this technique is particularly suited to an asymmetric stricture rather than a completely circular stricture.  With a circular stricture, typical balloon or bougie dilatations exert force equally in all directions and “will more likely tear less dense tissue adjacent to the thicker shelf.”
  • Fluoroscopy during a conventional dilatation may facillitate identification of stricture asymmmetry.
  • In the associated editorial (J Mack, MR Narkewicz) note that the technique should be limited to short (<1 cm) refractory strictures
  • In the technique for EIT, the authors note that combining EIT with balloon dilatation frequently allows a more shallow incision and likely lowers the risk of perforation.

My take: This is a promising treatment for a stubborn problem though its use will require advanced therapeutic experience. As an aside, I think their definition of success is at odds with common sense.

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