BMC palliative care

Palliative enteral feeding for patients with malignant esophageal obstruction: a retrospective study.

PMID 26542798


Malignant esophageal obstruction leads to dysphagia, deterioration in quality of life, and malnutrition. Traditional bedside nasogastric (NG) tube placement is very difficult under these circumstances. However, endoscopically assisted NG tube placement under fluoroscopic guidance could be an alternative option for establishing palliative enteral nutrition. This study aimed to compare the clinical outcomes of enteral tube feeding and esophageal stenting for patients with malignant esophageal obstruction and a short life expectancy. Thirty-one patients were divided into 3 groups according to their treatment modality: NG tube (n = 12), esophageal stent group (n = 10), and supportive care with nil per os (NPO) (n = 9). Enteral nutrition, clinical outcomes, length of hospital stay, and median survival were evaluated. There were no significant baseline differences among the groups, except in age. The tube and stent groups had significantly higher enteral calorie intake (p = 0.01), higher serum albumin (p < 0.01), shorter hospital stay (p = 0.01), and longer median survival (p < 0.01) than the NPO group. The incidence of dislodgement in the tube group was significantly higher than in the stent group (58% vs. 20%, respectively; p = 0.01). However, stenting costs more than NG tube placement. Palliative enteral feeding by NG tube is safe, inexpensive, and has a low complication rate. Endoscopically assisted NG tube placement under fluoroscopic guidance could be a feasible palliative option for malignant esophageal obstruction for patients who have a short life expectancy.