Background: Benign esophageal strictures refractory to standard dilation therapy present a challenging problem. Temporary plastic and metal stents have been proposed with inconclusive results.
Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of a new biodegradable stent for the treatment of refractory benign esophageal strictures (RBESs).
Design: Prospective study from 2 European endoscopy centers. Patient(s): Twenty-one patients (11 men/10 women, mean age 60.2 ±17.6 years) with RBESs defined according to the Kochman criteria treated by placement of a biodegradable stent (Ella stent).
Main Outcome Measures: Clinical and endoscopic follow-up was scheduled at 1, 2, 3, and 6 months and later only in case of dysphagia recurrence. Pre- and poststenting dysphagia status was graded according to a 5-point scale. Minor and major complication rates were prospectively assessed.
Results: Stent insertion was technically successful in all of the patients. At 4 and 7 weeks, stent migration occurred in 2 patients (9.5%). At 3-month endoscopy, the stent appeared to be almost completely fragmented in all remaining patients. The median pre- and poststenting dysphagia scores were 3 (range 3-4) and 1 (range 0-2), respectively (P ˇ .01), with a median follow-up of 53 weeks (range 25-88 weeks). In detail, 9 of 20 patients (45%) were dysphagia free at the end of the follow-up. No major complications occurred. Severe poststenting pain requiring analgesics developed in 3 patients, and minor bleeding was observed in 1 patient.
Conclusions: In this preliminary study, the biodegradable stent showed a favorable risk/benefit ratio, achieving complete relief of dysphagia in nearly 50% of RBES patients without the occurrence of major complications. The use of this stent may be a valuable alternative to repeat endoscopic dilation. Larger studies with longer follow-up are needed.