Esophagectomy takes the center stage in the curative treatment of local and local-regional esophageal cancer. It is a complex procedure with a high postoperative complication rate. When interpreting imaging studies, radiologists must understand the surgical techniques used and their potential complications. The most common surgical techniques are transthoracic esophagectomies, such as the Ivor Lewis and McKeown techniques, and transhiatal esophagectomy. Variations of these techniques include different choices of conduit (ie, stomach, colon, or jejunum) to serve in lieu of the resected esophagus. Postoperative imaging and accurate interpretation is vital in the aftercare of these patients. Chest radiographs, esophagrams, and computed tomographic images play an essential role in early identification of complications. Pulmonary complications and anastomotic leaks are the leading causes of postoperative morbidity and mortality secondary to esophagectomy. Other complications include technical and functional problems and delayed complications such as anastomotic strictures and disease recurrence. An esophagographic technique is described that is performed by using hand injection of contrast material into an indwelling nasogastric tube. Familiarity with the various types of esophagectomy and an understanding of possible complications are of utmost importance for radiologists and allow them to be key participants in the treatment of patients undergoing these complicated procedures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging