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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • dysphagia;
  • esophago-gastric;
  • palliation;
  • stent

SUMMARY

Palliation of malignant dysphagia can be achieved using self-expanding metal stents (SEMS). This study was conceived to confirm that the insertion of SEMS improved patient symptoms without serious complications and to allow comparison with recent national data. Retrospective case note review of all patients receiving SEMS over a 10-year period between March 1999 and February 2009 was used in this study. There were 138 consecutive patients (50 female), median age of 75 (range 46–90) years, 122 (88.5%) had primary malignant disease of the esophagus or gastroesophageal junction. In total, 250 endoscopic examinations were carried out, with 200 interventional procedures, including the insertion of 156 SEMS. Before stenting, 74.2% of patients had a dysphagia score of 2–3. Following stent insertion, dysphagia scores improved to 0–1 in 90.3% of patients (P < 0.0001, Wilcoxon signed ranks). No complications were encountered in 61 (44%) patients. Chest pain was the most frequent difficulty, encountered in 50 (36%) patients. Tumor overgrowth occurred in 17 (12.3%) patients and food bolus obstruction was seen in 7% of patients. There were no esophageal perforations attributable to SEMS insertion. Overall 30-day mortality for those with esophago-gastric malignancy was 11.6% (16 patients), although the SEMS-related mortality was 2.2% (3 patients). Median survival from SEMS insertion was 3 (IQR 1.5–7) months. Patients requiring re-intervention for tumor overgrowth had a significantly longer median survival of 9.2 months (P= 0.001, log rank). SEMS were well tolerated with overall mortality and complication rates comparable to national data. For the longer survivors, re-intervention for recurrent dysphagia was not unusual.