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Surgery seemed to go well, now a leak.

Posts: 40
Joined: May 2012

My husband had an MIE on August 31st.  Everything went great, he had a couple rough days about day 3 and 4, but since then is doing great.  The swallow test was done on Thursday and there is a "very small leak".  The doctor doesn't seem too concerned, in fact they plan to release him either tomorrow or Monday.  He will come back in a week or so for another swallow test, so until the leak is healed, no food or liquid by mouth.  The doctor seems to think it should close up on its on. He said if it didn't, he may consider a stent.

All these things are alarming to me - the leak, a possible stent.  Am I overreacting, is this common?  Can a small leak really be no big deal?


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Posts: 120
Joined: Jun 2012

I am so glad that Paul is recovering well. Our surgery is now a month from today (yikes!) and I will be very interested to hear what others have to say about this leak and possible complications. Please keep us posted!

Posts: 11
Joined: Jul 2012

Unfortunately for my dad, they did not find his leak during his swallow test in the hospital. They sent him home and then he developed pneumonia and got very very sick. Eventually they found the small leak and stopped him from drinking or eating anything else. They had to do another surgery to get all the fluid and stuff out of his lung. They have said the leak should heal on its own. He has another swallow test on Tuesday to see. He is on the mend now and we are praying this leak will heal quickly. It's great that they were able to find your husband's leak before leaving the hospital. Hopefully he will avoid any serious complications.

Posts: 40
Joined: May 2012

Thank you for posting but what a horrible way for your dad to find he had a leak. We are going back this Wednesday for a follow up swallow test. He's had nothing to eat or drink by mouth for over 2 1/2 weeks now and getting a little aggregated. Hopefully this one goes well. Hope your dad has success with his leak healing.


Josie60's picture
Posts: 81
Joined: Jul 2012

There must be a couple ways leaks develop. I hope your dad get better soon. I don't know if it helps since my leak was a fistula but I'll fill you in on my experience.

I am about 14 weeks out from my THE surgery. I passed my initial swallow test and was sent home, but about 3 days later I started to get a wiff of odar that reminded me of an outhouse. The next morning I coughed and I had liquid draining from my neck incision. I had to return to the hospital. The 2nd swallow test showed a leak which was defined as a fistula because it was draining to the outside of the throat at the incision site. The surgeon had to open the neck incision and pack it. I stayed in the hospital for another 7 days so they could manage the drainage ( the drainage lessened over the course of time but the first several weeks it was quite profuse every time I coughed).

A couple notes. First my surgeon does not allow any solid food or liquid for a minimum of 15 days after the surgery indicating that doing so increases the chances of a leak developing. I was one of the unlucky ones that developed one anyway. However the surgeon was not overly concerned because a fistula although messy was fairly easy to manage. I did need to go in multiple times for an endoscopy and dilation to make sure scar tissue din't develop in my throat as the fistula closed on its own.

It took about 8 weeks for the fistula to close completely, the surgeon said it would take 8-12 weeks so he was right on target.
I already had a J tube for nutrition so he asked me to delay solids and drinking for a couple extra weeks so I wasn't forcing the stuff out of the hole as I coughed.

The leak was very frustrating and I got depressed because it slowed things down but in the grand scheme of things it was a minor set back. But it has healed and I have been able to move on.

Hope this helps

Stage 3 EC
Diagnosed march 12
Taxol/Carboplatin/ radiation
HTE surgery June 5 12


Posts: 2
Joined: May 2012

I had my surgery on 08/10/2012 went home with a small leak on 08/23/2012. Went back for another swallow test to find it it healing but hasn't healed all the way. Next week I'm having a video swallow test done, has anyone had this procedure?

sandy1943's picture
Posts: 883
Joined: Jun 2010

I'm not sure what my barium swallow is called, but I have had the swallow test every 6 months since 5/08. I have another on tuesday. I stand up with the xray machine on my front. I swallow barium sips as the doctor watch's.Then I am laid down and this is done again. I am put back upright and given a pill, that is watched travel down. Don't know if this is what you are talking about, but I have had several different types.

captdave's picture
Posts: 168
Joined: Feb 2012

I had the video xray swallow done before I was released from the hospital it really is a benign procedure. Nothing to worry about from the procedure standpoint at all.


Lee Christensen's picture
Lee Christensen
Posts: 43
Joined: Nov 2010

I had a leak coming out after the surgery. Spent 3 months in hospital till it healed. Had other complications though, my feeding tube didn't work so was feed by IV. Good Luck.

Posts: 131
Joined: Jan 2010

I had leakage, as well. My doctors wanted me to keep eating and drinking. When we discoverd a leak, they put a small incision in my neck and a bag to collect fluids. They still wanted me to continue eating a nd drinking. After a few weeks, it closed on its own and was not a problem. Don't be too alarmed.

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