Big Study on Intralesional Steroid Injection for Esophageal Anastomotic Strictures & 8 Truths on COVID-19

A recent retrospective study (PD Ngo et al. JPGN 2020; 70: 462-7) describes the largest published experience with intralesional steroid injection (ISI) for esophageal anastomotic strictures; the population studied in this report were strictures associated with esophageal atresia (EA) repair.

Key Details:

  • 158 patients, 2010-2017, were included
  • 1055 balloon dilatations and 452 ISI+
  • Triamcinolone acetate (10 mg/mL) was injected into the scar tissue “at a typical doses of 1 to 2 mg/kg with a weight-based maximum of 20mg and not >40 mg per procedure (typically 10-20 mg).  The total injected dose was divided into 4 or more injection sites.”
  • Dilatation was performed with controlled radial expansion (CRE) balloons.
  • Prior to dilatation, a brief intraoperative contrast esophagram with half-strength ioversol 68% (Optiray 320) was performed.  This allowed estimation of the anastomotic diameters. In some cases with poor contrast distention, the estimation was completed using the endoscope diameter or biopsy forceps size.

Key findings:

  • The median change in stricture diameter was significantly greater in the ISI+ group compared to the ISI-neg group with stricture dilatation, with an adjusted odds ratio of 3.24
  • The likelihood of ISI injection being helpful was more pronounced with the first three sessions, with a median change of 1 mm compared to 0.5mm (after the first three).  The authors note that after the first 3 ISI+-dilatations, there was not a statistically-significant difference in stricture dilatation between those receiving ISI and those with balloon alone
  • There was no difference in perforation rates with ISI than without
  • The authors noted that patients who received ISI were less likely to be subsequently characterized as refractory

The study has a number of limitations including lack of precision/reproducibility with stricture diameter with dilatation; in addition, it was non-randomized and retrospective.

My take: This study, completed in a highly-specialized center, provides evidence that stricture dilatation following esophageal atresia repair is likely to be more successful with steroid injection.

Related blog posts:

Also, a good read (thanks to 33mail Bryan Vartabedian for this reference): Can We Discuss Flatten-the-Curve in COVID19? My Eight Assertions by JOHN MANDROLA, MD

” I will argue that the cumulative deaths from COVID19 will not be reduced significantly by flatten-the-curve policies. And that this virus will be as dangerous to vulnerable patients in 6 months to a year. We should be allowed to debate this.”

Key points: flattening of the curve does not mean that we will substantially lower the total mortality related to COVID-19 –though hospitals now have had time to avoid being overwhelmed.  The virus is not contained, tests will underperform, new treatments do not help much (thus far), the overall mortality is ~1%, it may be difficult for a vaccine to prove its effectiveness, and COVID-19 (& our response) will likely lead to a large number of deaths not due to COVID-19.

Curbside Humor