Salvage esophagectomy is performed for esophageal cancer after definitive chemoradiotherapy. The clinical significance and safety of salvage surgery has not been well established. We reviewed 14 cases of salvage esophagectomy following definitive chemoradiotherapy from 1994 through 2005 and investigated complication rates and outcomes. Seven of 14 cases were completely resected with salvage surgery. Operation time and bleeding were greater in patients who experienced incomplete resection (R1/R2). Anastomosis leakage, pulmonary dysfunction and heart failure were recognized in four, two and one patients, respectively. The postoperative complications were more frequent (71.4%) in patients with incomplete resection (R1/R2) than in patients with complete resection (R0) (28.4%). Two patients with complete resection (R0) showed long-term survival. Salvage esophagectomy may be indicated when the tumor can be resected completely after definitive chemotherapy. However, all cases of T4 cancer cannot be resected completely, resulting in a high risk for complications and poor survival.
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