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Case report
Benign gastrobronchial fistula following oesophagectomy in a patient presenting with respiratory failure
  1. Kasper Favere1,
  2. Klaas Vanderbiest2,
  3. Jan Bresseleers2 and
  4. Pieter Depuydt2
  1. 1 Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
  2. 2 Intensive Care Department, Universitair Ziekenhuis Gent, Gent, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Professor Pieter Depuydt, pieter.depuydt{at}


Benign gastrobronchial fistula (GBF) is a rare but potentially life-threatening complication of oesophagectomy for malignancy. We present a case of GBF post Ivor-Lewis surgery manifesting as pulmonary sepsis and type II respiratory failure. Clues to the diagnosis were persistent hypercapnia despite high minute ventilation, aspiration of gastric content through the endotracheal tube and accumulation of air in the nasogastric drainage bag. Flexible bronchoscopy confirmed the diagnosis. Surgical exploration identified necrosis of the proximal stomach as causative factor. Despite reconstruction of the oesophagogastric anastomosis and interposition of an intercostal muscle flap, the patient developed a new episode of type II respiratory failure. Bronchoscopy revealed in situ recurrence of the fistula. Patency of the fistula was proven through application of methylene blue with subsequent gastroscopy. A conservative, symptom-based, management was conducted. The patient died 6 hours later.

  • gastrointestinal surgery
  • air leaks
  • oesophagus
  • adult intensive care
  • oesophageal cancer
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  • KF and KV contributed equally.

  • Contributors KF, KV and JB drafted the article. KF and JB edited the figures. PD critically revised the article for intellectual content. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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