OBJECTIVES: Failure of anastomotic healing is a morbid complication after airway or oesophageal surgery. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been used extensively in the management of complex wound-healing problems. We demonstrate the use of HBOT to rescue at-risk anastomoses or manage anastomotic failures in thoracic surgery.

METHODS: Retrospective review of 25 patients who received HBOT as part of the management of tracheal or oesophageal anastomotic problems during 2007–2018. HBOT was delivered at 2 atm with 100% oxygen in 90-min sessions.

RESULTS:Twenty-three patients underwent airway resection and reconstruction while 2 patients underwent oesophagectomy. There were 16 (70%) laryngotracheal and 7 (30%) tracheal resections. Necrosis at the airway anastomosis was found in 13 (57%) patients, partial dehiscence in 2 (9%) patients and both in 6 (26%) patients. HBOT was prophylactic in 2 (9%) patients. Patients received a median of 9.5 HBOT sessions (interquartile range 5–19 sessions) over a median course of 8 days. The airway anastomosis healed in 20 of 23 (87%) patients. Overall, a satisfactory long-term airway outcome was achieved in 19 (83%) patients; 4 patients failed and required reoperation (2 tracheostomies and 1 T-tube). HBOT was used in 2 patients after oesophagectomy to manage focal necrosis or ischaemia at the anastomosis, with success in 1 patient. Complications from HBOT were infrequent and mild (e.g. ear discomfort).

CONCLUSIONS: HBOT should be considered as an adjunct in the management of anastomotic problems after airway surgery. It may also play a role after oesophagectomy. Possible mechanisms of action are rapid granulation, early re-epithelialization and angiogenesis.

Tapias, et al. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in the Prevention and Management of Tracheal and Oesophageal Anastomotic Complications. OUP Academic, European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, 13 Jan. 2020, academic.oup.com/ejcts/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ejcts/ezz364/5701485?redirectedFrom=fulltext.