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Case report
Benign gastrobronchial fistula following oesophagectomy in a patient presenting with respiratory failure


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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