A 74-year-old woman with no history of alcohol or tobacco abuse, presented to our department with an oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma located 25 cm from the incisors without associated gastric lesions.
The computed tomography (CT) scan showed a tumor <1 cm in diameter without any lymph node metastases (ctT1N0M0, stage I according to UICC).
On 23 May 2007, the patient underwent a subtotal oesophagectomy and lymphadenectomy through a right thoracotomy, cervicotomy and laparotomy, and afterwards a reconstruction through a gastric tube via the retrosternal route as well as nutritive microjejunostomy.
Histologically, the oesophageal tumor was a well differentiated squamous cell carcinoma invading the submucosa with no lymph node metastases (pT1 N0 M0, stage I according to the International Union Against Cancer (UICC)).
The postoperative course was complicated by a cardiovascular incident; the patient suffered twice from a cardiac arrest but was successfully resuscitated. Afterwards we observed an anastomotic leakage which in time led to a critical anastomotic stenosis. The patient was discharged from our department with an enteral nutrition conducted through microjejunostomy. Unsuccessful attempts of anastomotic dilation were carried out in an outpatient clinic.
Sixteen months after the initial treatment the patient was admitted to our department once again with the intention of restoring the normal continuity of the digestive tract. Before the surgery the patient had a CT examination of her chest which revealed no abnormality. In order to reconstruct the proper anastomosis we performed a laparotomy and a sternotomy, through which a mobilisation and refreshing of the ends of the proximal part of the gastric tube and oesophagus were carried out. During the mobilisation a small polyp was discovered in the gastric wall. The tumour was resected, but since the intraoperative examination could not be carried out, the specimen was send to the histopathological department to be examined in the normal mode. The anastomosis between the oesophagus and gastric tube was successfully reconstructed.
The postoperative recovery was uneventful and the patient was discharged without any complications after 9 days. Unfortunately for the patient the gastric tumor in the histopathologic examination proved to be a tubular adenocarcinoma and there were cancer cells present in the margins of resection (R1 resection).
After 1 month, as there were no contraindications for a curative resection, a gastrectomy through a second sternotomy was performed with a right colon interposition graft inserted between the upper esophagus and jejunum, via a retrosternal route with oesophago–colonic and colo–jejunal anastomoses. The postoperative course was uneventful, with a successful introduction of oral nutrition 5 days after the surgery. The patient was discharged 15 days after the operation. The final histopathologic examination of the resected specimen confirmed that the tumour of the gastric tube was a moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma, and revealed a residual tumor invading the muscularis propria without any lymph node metastases (pT2 N0 M0, stage IB according to UICC).
The patient returned to her daily routine. Five months after the surgery no recurrent disease, and no further anastomostic strictures, were detected. At present the follow-up time since the oesophagectomy results is 19 months.