OBJECTIVE - Many patients with cancer have limited esophageal reconstruction options when the stomach is unavailable as a replacement conduit or when long-segment discontinuity exists. Jejunum has been used as an alternative conduit, both as a pedicled or free flap interposition; however, reports of this are usually limited to short-segment repairs. Microvascular augmentation of a pedicled jejunal flap allows creation of a longer conduit, making it possible to replace the entire esophagus with jejunum. Few reports describe this technique in patients with cancer. We report our initial experience with "supercharged" pedicled jejunum as an alternative conduit for total esophageal reconstruction.
METHODS - Review of a prospectively collected departmental database was performed to identify those patients who underwent total esophageal reconstruction with supercharged pedicled jejunum. Data regarding their perioperative course and postoperative function were gathered from the prospectively collected clinical data, review of hospital records, and patient interviews.
RESULTS - Total esophageal reconstruction with supercharged pedicled jejunum was attempted in 26 patients (age range, 37-74 years) between March 2000 and April 2004. Twenty-four of 26 patients were ultimately discharged with an intact supercharged pedicled jejunum flap, for an overall success rate of 92.3%. One patient experienced intraoperative flap loss caused by technical difficulties harvesting the flap and never had the flap interposed. One other flap loss occurred in the early postoperative period in a patient who had multisystem organ failure after a prolonged reconstruction. Cervical anastomotic leaks occurred in 19.2% (5/26) of the patients. Two midconduit leaks occurred that were suspicious for iatrogenic perforation from nasogastric tube placement; one required reoperation. One additional early reoperation was performed for cecal ischemia. There were no mortalities. Functional results were available in 95.4% (21/22) of the patients receiving supercharged pedicled jejunum who survived at least 6 months after reconstruction. At the time of follow-up, 95% (20/21) of the patients were tolerating regular diet, and 76.2% (16/21) did not require any supplemental alimentation. Ninety-five percent (20/21) of the patients were free from reflux symptoms, and 80.9% (17/21) had no dumping symptoms. Only 1 patient required dilation of a midconduit stricture. One patient required late reoperation for conduit redundancy.
CONCLUSIONS - Supercharged pedicled jejunum is a suitable alternative conduit for total esophageal replacement in patients with cancer with otherwise limited reconstructive options. Functional outcomes are excellent, despite the severity of disease and technical challenges in this patient population.