The results of the diagnosis and treatment of 117 patients with cervicothoracic injuries were analyzed. Different complications were observed in 51 (43.6%) cases. The main reasons contributing to the development of complications included late diagnosis of lesions of trachea and esophagus, acute blood loss, inadequate hemostasis during surgery.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate surgical options of treatment in combined tracheo-esophageal injuries and their sequelae and elaborate new ones. METHODS: The overlooked diagnosis of combined tracheo-esophageal injury would lead to severe stenosis of the esophagus and trachea with tracheo-esophageal fistula. This condition requires a complex surgical intervention to be performed with non-standard procedure in every single case. Forty patients with combined tracheo-esophageal injuries were treated in our institution. Nine patients were urgently operated while others were transferred to us from other hospitals with chronic sequelae of the initial trauma. RESULTS: In the majority of cases the cause of the injury was penetrating (17 patients) or iatrogenic (13 patients) trauma followed by blunt neck and chest trauma (six patients) and caustic burn (four patients). Three patients had total cut off of the esophagus and trachea, which were repaired with end-to-end anastomoses. Another six patients had tracheal and esophageal disruptions within one-half to three-quarters of circumference. In these cases both the trachea and esophagus were mobilized within wall laceration and sutured by interrupted Vicryl 4/0. One of them died due to pre-existing disease. Thirty-one patients with sequelae of the trauma were also operated on. In spite of the complexity and extent of the tracheo-esophageal stenosis and fistula the surgical treatment was aimed to one-stage reconstruction of both the esophagus and trachea. For this purpose we performed an originally developed surgical intervention, which was to be modified in accordance with patients diagnosis. The main point of the procedure is that after mobilization of the trachea and esophagus we resect an involved part of the trachea, but preserve a pedicled flap fashioned from the tracheal membrane. Then we remove the mucosa from the flap, resect an involved esophageal wall, repair esophageal mucosa and replace the defect of the muscular layer of the esophagus with the tracheal flap. Then a tracheal or laryngo-tracheal anastomosis is established. There were no postoperative mortality and complications among patients with the sequelae. CONCLUSION: Combined tracheo-esophageal injury requires the precise preoperative diagnosis and well organized plan of surgical treatment, which may be unique for every single patient. The main purpose of the treatment is to restore the continuity of both the esophagus and trachea in one-stage intervention.