Endoscopic management of upper esophageal strictures after treatment of head and neck malignancy

Sushil K. Ahlawat, Firas H. Al-Kawas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: Dysphagia, usually due to proximal esophageal strictures, is a debilitating complication of therapy (surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy) for head and neck malignancy. Scant attention has been given in the literature to the endoscopic management of these proximal esophageal strictures. Objective: Our purpose was to assess the technical and functional outcomes of endoscopic management of proximal esophageal strictures after therapy for head and neck cancers. Design: Retrospective case series. Setting: Academic medical center. Patients: Consecutive patients undergoing endoscopy and dilation of proximal esophageal strictures caused by chemoradiation or surgery for head and neck malignancy. Main Outcome Measurement: Technical and functional success after endoscopic dilation. Results: Twenty-four patients were included. The mean age of patients was 70.4 years (range 42 to 82 years). The primary tumor site was larynx in 10 patients, oropharynx or hypopharynx in 4 patients, upper esophagus in 4 patients, and other sites in the remainder. Technical success (a luminal diameter of 42F or greater) was achieved in 80% of patients. Adequate dysphagia relief was achieved in 84% of patients whose esophageal stricture was dilated at least up to 42F. The average follow-up was 22 months (range 1-96 months). Repeat dilation was needed in 58% of patients. No complications or death occurred during the study period. Limitations: Retrospective design and highly selected patient population. Dysphagia assessment in conjuction with a speech pathologist was not performed in all patients. Results may not be applicable to other settings. Conclusion: In this case series, proximal esophageal strictures after treatment of head and neck malignancy were amenable to antegrade endoscopic dilation; however, no patient in our study had complete lumen obstruction. Repeat dilations are often needed and are effective in achieving and maintaining adequate dysphagia relief.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalGastrointestinal endoscopy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Gastroenterology


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