Study Design: Multicenter retrospective case series and review of the literature. Objective: To determine the rate of esophageal perforations following anterior cervical spine surgery. Methods: As part of an AOSpine series on rare complications, a retrospective cohort study was conducted among 21 high-volume surgical centers to identify esophageal perforations following anterior cervical spine surgery. Staff at each center abstracted data from patients' charts and created case report forms for each event identified. Case report forms were then sent to the AOSpine North America Clinical Research Network Methodological Core for data processing and analysis. Results: The records of 9591 patients who underwent anterior cervical spine surgery were reviewed. Two (0.02%) were found to have esophageal perforations following anterior cervical spine surgery. Both cases were detected and treated in the acute postoperative period. One patient was successfully treated with primary repair and debridement. One patient underwent multiple debridement attempts and expired. Conclusions: Esophageal perforation following anterior cervical spine surgery is a relatively rare occurrence. Prompt recognition and treatment of these injuries is critical to minimizing morbidity and mortality.
- esophageal perforation