Fractures and other chest wall abnormalities after thoracotomy for esophageal cancer: A retrospective cohort study

Suzanne F. M. Van Wijck, Athina Barza, Jefrey Vermeulen, Ben M. Eyck, Berend J. van der Wilk, Erwin van der Harst, Michael H. J. Verhofstad, Sjoerd M. Lagarde, Esther M. M. Van Lieshout*, Mathieu M. E. Wijffels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Chest pain following a thoracotomy for esophageal cancer is frequently reported but poorly understood. This study aimed to (1) determine the prevalence of thoracotomy-related thoracic fractures on postoperative imaging and (2) compare complications, long-term pain, and quality of life in patients with versus without these fractures. Methods This retrospective cohort study enrolled patients with esophageal cancer who underwent a thoracotomy between 2010 and 2020 with pre- and postoperative CTs (<1 and/or >6 months). Disease-free patients were invited for questionnaires on pain and quality of life. Results Of a total of 366 patients, thoracotomy-related rib fractures were seen in 144 (39%) and thoracic transverse process fractures in 4 (2%) patients. Patients with thoracic fractures more often developed complications (89% vs. 74%, p = 0.002), especially pneumonia (51% vs. 39%, p = 0.032). Questionnaires were completed by 77 after a median of 41 (P-25-P(75 )28-91) months. Long-term pain was frequently (63%) reported but was not associated with thoracic fractures (p = 0.637), and neither were quality of life scores. Conclusions Thoracic fractures are prevalent in patients following a thoracotomy for esophageal cancer. These thoracic fractures were associated with an increased risk of postoperative complications, especially pneumonia, but an association with long-term pain or reduced quality of life was not confirmed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)662-672
Number of pages11
JournalWorld Journal of Surgery
Issue number3
Early online date2 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. World Journal of Surgery published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Society of Surgery/Société Internationale de Chirurgie (ISS/SIC).


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