Management of delayed esophageal perforations after anterior cervical spinal surgery: Clinical article

Elias Dakwar, Juan S. Uribe, Tapan A. Padhya, Fernando Vale Diaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Object. Delayed esophageal perforation is an uncommon but well-known complication after anterior cervical spine surgery. To the authors' knowledge there is no consensus to the optimal management of these patients in the literature. Methods. The authors performed a retrospective review of 5 cases involving patients who were referred to their institution for the management of delayed esophageal perforations after undergoing anterior cervical spine surgery for a variety of reasons. Results. The primary presenting symptom in all 5 patients was dysphagia. All patients initially underwent primary closure of the perforation with a sternocleidomastoid muscle flap. One patient required multiple surgeries to correct the perforation and ultimately required a free flap. Conclusions. The authors recommend a multidisciplinary approach that involves otolaryngological surgeons as well as spine surgeons. They recommend removal of all anterior hardware and believe that it is essential to the treatment of esophageal perforations. If the patient does not have evidence of fusion at the time of presentation, then posterior cervical instrumentation is a viable alternative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-325
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterior cervical spine surgery
  • Esophageal perforation
  • Management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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