Background: Recent studies have suggested that stent-grafting may improve the treatment outcome of patients with esophageal perforation, but evidence on this is still lacking. Methods: Data on 194 patients who underwent conservative (43 patients), endoclip (4 patients) stent-grafting (63 patients) or surgical treatment (84 patients) for esophageal perforation were retrieved from nine medical centers. Results: In-hospital/30-day mortality was 17.5 %. Three-year survival was 67.1 %. Age, coronary artery disease, and esophageal malignancy were independent predictors of early mortality. Chi squared automatic interaction detection analysis showed that patients without coronary artery disease, without esophageal malignancy and younger than 70 years had the lowest early mortality (4.1 %). Surgery was associated with slightly lower early mortality (conservative 23.3, endoclips 25.0 %, stent-grafting 19.0 %, surgery 13.1 %; p = 0.499). One center reported a series of more than 20 patients treated with stent-grafting which achieved an early mortality of 7.7 % (2/26 patients). Stent-grafting was associated with better survival with salvaged esophagus (conservative 76.7 %, endoclips 75.0 %, stent-grafting 77.8 %, surgery 56.0 %; p = 0.019). Propensity score adjusted analysis showed that stent-grafting achieved similar early mortality (p = 0.946), but significantly higher survival with salvaged esophagus than with surgical treatment (p = 0.001, OR 0.253, 95 % CI 0.110-0.585). Primary surgical repair was associated with somewhat lower early mortality (14.6 vs. 19.0 %; p = 0.561) and better survival with salvaged esophagus (85.4 vs. 77.8 %; p = 0.337) than stent-grafting. Conclusions: Esophageal perforation was associated with a rather high mortality rate in this all-comers population. Stent-grafting failed to decrease operative mortality, but it improved survival with salvaged esophagus. The results of one of the centers indicate that increasing experience with this less invasive procedure may possibly improve the outcome of these patients.
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