Objective: To identify bronchoscopic findings that predict resectability of squamous cell carcinoma of the upper thoracic esophagus. Design: Tracheobronchoscopy was performed in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the thoracic esophagus to assess the infiltration of the tracheobronchial tree by the tumor and predict the resectability. Bronchoscopic records were matched with clinical outcome and intraoperative findings. Setting: University hospital, tertiary care referral center. Patients: A total of 113 patients with supracarinal esophageal carcinoma underwent bronchoscopy as part of the preoperative staging. In 47 patients the bronchoscopy was repeated after a regimen of neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Intervention: A total of 160 bronchoscopies performed by the same operator. Main Outcome Measures: Bronchoscopic record, matched with clinical outcome and intraoperative findings Results: Including patients before and after neoadjuvant chemotherapy, 27 of the 46 with no bronchoscopic abnormalities were operated on: in 24 (89%) of them radical surgical resection was possible. Among the 22 patients with a slight compression on the tracheobronchial tree admitted to surgery, a radical surgical resection was possible in 20 cases (91%). In none of the 5 patients with compression/deviation associated with fixation of the tracheobronchial tree but no mucosal infiltration who underwent surgery was a radical surgical resection posSible because of tracheobronchial infiltration. Conclusions: Compression of the tracheobronchial tree does not necessarily mean infiltration by esophageal carcinoma. If the compression is slight and the mobility of the tracheobronchial tree is normal, a radical esophagectomy is possible in 91% of patients.
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