Computerized axial tomographic (CT) scans were performed on 16 patients over an 18-month period to determine which patients were candidates for removal of their esophageal tumors by blunt esophagectomy. Blunt esophagectomy was offered only to those patients whose tumors were confined to the esophageal wall on CT scan. Thirteen patients were able to undergo blunt esophagectomy, with only one complication, a tracheal injury, which was repaired. Three patients had extensive mediastinal invasion requiring standard thoracotomy to perform a palliative resection. The operative blood loss in the group of patients with blunt esophagectomy was 500 ml, and there was only one operative death related to chronic aspiration. The CT scan is a valuable adjunct in determining which patients are candidates for esophagectomy without thoracotomy.
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