Purpose: An esophagectomy followed by reconstruction for esophageal cancer is a highly aggressive operation. The purpose of this study was to justify a two-stage operation for high-risk patients with esophageal cancer. Methods: The clinical results of 27 patients who underwent two-stage operation were compared with 118 patients who underwent a simultaneous resection and reconstruction (control subjects). The reasons for the selection of the two-stage operation were underlying general disease in 13 patients (liver dysfunction, n = 6; pulmonary disease, n = 3; poor performance status, n = 2; diabetes and renal failure, n = 1 each) and high-risk operation in 14 other patients (colon interposition, n = 7; salvage operation after definitive chemoradiotherapy, n = 4; and intraoperative events, n = 3). The patients initially underwent an esophagectomy and a cervical esophagostomy. Reconstruction was usually performed 2-3 weeks later. Results: The patients in the two-stage group were older than the control patients (mean 67.8 vs. 61.6 years old). The morbidity rate of the two-stage operation was 29.6%, which was not statistically different than control patients (32.2%). Postoperative complications in the two-stage operation were anastomotic leakage in 5 patients, and pneumonia and wound infection in 1 patient each. No patient experienced in-hospital death. The survival rates were not statistically different between the two groups. Conclusion: A two-stage operation is a safe operation that prevents the occurrence of critical postoperative complications, and it thus may be considered an important treatment strategy for high-risk patients with esophageal cancer.
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