Background: Patients with esophageal cancer often present with dysphagia and malnutrition. Obstructive symptoms may improve after radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Nutrition support via a nasogastric tube (NG) or gastrostomy is very important during treatment. The newly developed ultrathin endoscope (Olympus, GIF-N230, outer diameter: 6 mm) has a smaller diameter than the standard endoscope and can be introduced into the esophagus via the nasal cavity. This article reports on the use of an ultrathin endoscope for NG placement for patients with esophageal cancer who presented with dysphagia and failed traditional NG tube placement. Methods: A consecutive series of 40 patients with esophageal cancer were referred to our hospital from November 2001 to October 2002 for endoscopic placement of NG tubes due to failure of traditional methods of NG placement. An ultrathin endoscope was used to advance the guidewire into the stomach via the nasal cavity. After withdrawal of the scope, the NG tube was inserted over the guidewire under fluoroscopy. Observations: A total of 71 procedures were performed in 40 patients (37 males, 3 females), age 57 ± 15 years (range, 37-91 y). Seventy procedures (99%) were successful in completing NG tube placement by using an ultrathin transnasal endoscope. Only one procedure failed because the esophageal lumen was completely occluded and the guidewire was not able to be passed through the obstructed site. The average duration that the NG tube was left in place was 49 ± 35 days (range, 2-144 days). No procedure-related complications, such as bleeding or perforation, occurred. Conclusions: Using ultrathin transnasal endoscopy to place an NG tube for esophageal cancer patients is effective and safe. It simplifies the procedures and increases the success rate.
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