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Comparison of complication rates associated with stapling and traditional suture closure after total laryngectomy for advanced cancer

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August 22, 2013
by Brett A. Miles, DDS, MD; Deborah Larrison, MD; and Larry L. Myers, MD


We conducted a retrospective, matched-cohort, case-control study to compare complication rates associated with two wound closure procedures-stapling vs. traditional hand suturing-following total laryngectomy. Our study population was made up of 42 consecutively presenting patients-38 men and 4 women, aged 34 to 92 years (mean: 60.3) whose pharyngotomies were amenable to primary closure. Of this group, 37 patients had active endolaryngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), 2 patients had inactive endolaryngeal SCC, 2 patients had thyroid cancer, and 1 patient had been treated for chronic aspiration. A total of 26 patients (61.9%) had undergone traditional suture closure of the neopharynx (suture group) and 16 patients (38.1%) had undergone closure with a linear stapling device (staple group). Other than the fact that the patients in the staple group were significantly older than those in the suture group (median: 71.0 vs. 56.5 yr, p = 0.002), there were no significant differences between the two groups in terms of comorbidities or cricopharyngeal myotomy, tracheoesophageal puncture, or neck dissection. There was a total of 8 postoperative infections-5 in the staple group (31.3%) and 3 in the suture group (11.5%)-not a statistically significant difference. Fistulas occurred in 4 staple patients (25.0%) and 6 suture patients (23.1%)-again, not statistically significant. We conclude that in appropriately selected patients, primary closure of the neopharynx can be safely and effectively achieved with a linear stapling device.

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