ISSN 2149-3987 | E-ISSN 2149-553X
Original Article
Pharyngocutaneous Fistula after Total Laryngectomy: Risk Factors with Emphasis on Previous Radiotherapy and Heavy Smoking
1 Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Dokuz Eylül University School of Medicine, İzmir, Turkey  
Turk Arch Otorhinolaryngol 2016; 54: 91-98
DOI: 10.5152/tao.2016.1878
Key Words: Laryngeal cancer, pharyngocutaneous fistula, radiotherapy, smoking, total laryngectomy

Objective: In this retrospective cohort study, we aimed to determine the incidence of pharyngocutaneous fistula (PCF) after total laryngectomy (TL) and to define the possible predictors for PCF formation.


Methods: The medical records of 198 patients with laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma who underwent TL were reviewed. After the exclusion of patients with history of free flap reconstruction, previous laryngeal surgery, and previous radiotherapy (RT) for other primary cancers, the risk factors for PCF were analyzed in 183 patients who were included in the study.


Results: The overall incidence of PCF was 20.2%. A history of heavy smoking and previous RT were detected as independent risk factors in both univariate (p=0.004 and p=0.007, respectively) and multivariate (p=0.005) analyses. Preoperative tracheotomy (PT) longer than 14 days was a risk factor for PCF among patients with PT in the univariate analysis (p=0.031). Overall three- and five-year survival rates were statistically indifferent between the PCF and non-PCF groups (p>0.05). However, the overall five-year survival rate was lesser in the persistent PCF group (47%) than in the non-persistent PCF group (83%) (p=0.038).


Conclusion: Heavy smoking and previous RT are independent risk factors for PCF, and the persistence of PCF decreases survival rates. Preventable measures should be taken to decrease the incidence and persistence of this complication of TL in the management of patients with possible risk factors. 

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