Feeding jejunostomy tubes (J-tube) are often placed during gastrectomy for cancer to decrease malnutrition and promote delivery of adjuvant therapy. We hypothesized that J-tubes actually are associated with increased complications and do not improve nutritional status nor increase rates of adjuvant therapy.
One hundred thirty-two patients were identified from a prospectively maintained database that underwent gastric resection for gastric adenocarcinoma between 1/00 and 3/11 at one institution. Pre- and postoperative nutritional status and relevant intraoperative and postoperative parameters were examined.
Median age was 64 years (range 23–85). Forty-six (35%) underwent a total and 86 (65%) a subtotal gastrectomy. J-tubes were placed in 66 (50%) patients, 34 of whom underwent a subtotal and 32 a total gastrectomy. Preoperative nutritional status was similar between J-tube and no J-tube groups as measured by serum albumin (3.5 vs. 3.4 g/dL). Tumor grade, T, N, and overall stage were similar between groups. J-tube placement was associated with increased postop complications (59% vs. 41%, P = 0.04) and infectious complications (36% vs. 17%, P = 0.01), of which majority were surgical site infections. J-tubes were associated with prolonged length of stay (13 vs. 11 days; P = 0.05). There was no difference in postoperative nutritional status as measured by 30, 60, and 90-day albumin levels and the rate of receiving adjuvant therapy was similar between groups (J-tube: 61%, no J-tube: 53%, P = 0.38). Multivariate analyses revealed J-tubes to be associated with increased postop complications (HR: 4.8; 95% CI: 1.3–17.7; P = 0.02), even when accounting for tumor stage and operative difficulty and extent. Subset analysis revealed J-tubes to have less associated morbidity after total gastrectomy.
J-tube placement after gastrectomy for gastric cancer may be associated with increased postoperative complications with no demonstrable advantage in receiving adjuvant therapy. Routine use of J-tubes after subtotal gastrectomy may not be justified, but may be selectively indicated in patients undergoing total gastrectomy. A prospective trial is needed to validate these results. J. Surg. Oncol. 2013;107:728–734. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.