Background: With the improved survival rate of patients with esophageal cancer, secondary cancers, including pharyngolaryngeal cancer, have become a problem. Phanryngolaryngeal cancer surgery often requires esophagogastric anastomosis resection in patients with a previous history of subtotal esophagectomy. Owing to adhesions, especially surrounding the esophagogastric anastomosis, caused by the initial surgery, the second surgery might cause postoperative complications.

Case presentation: A 65-year-old man was diagnosed with early stage esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and underwent endoscopic mucosal dissection. However, the histopathological depth of the tumor was pT1b, and additional treatment was required. After administration of the neoadjuvant chemotherapy, he underwent thoracoscopic esophagectomy and retrosternum reconstruction via a gastric tube (pT1N3M0 stage III). Eight months after the first surgery, tumor recurrences were observed at the anastomosis and left cervical lymph node. Definitive chemoradiotherapy was performed for the recurrences, and complete response was achieved. Seven months after chemoradiotherapy, he was diagnosed with hypopharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma in the right piriform fossa (cT2N2bM0 stage IVA), and salvage surgery was chosen as treatment. The surgical findings revealed strong adhesion around the remnant esophagus, which was difficult to dissect from surrounding tissue and was associated with a risk of breaking of the anastomosis. However, indocyanine green fluorescence imaging findings indicated sufficient blood flow to preserve the remnant esophagus, including the anastomosis, even after the interruption of blood flow from the proximal side of the esophagus by total pharyngolaryngectomy. Finally, approximately 4 cm of the remnant esophagus was preserved, and the free jejunum reconstruction with cervical vascular anastomosis was performed. Moreover, the patient was discharged without complications on postoperative day 38. After 10 months of the second surgery, a metastatic lymph node was observed in the right neck. Immune checkpoint inhibitors and chemotherapy were administered, and the patient is alive and under treatment 1.5 years after the second surgery.

Conclusions: Blood supply to the remnant cervical esophagus was thought to be from the gastric conduit over the anastomosis and surrounding capillaries. Thus, the preservation of the remnant esophagus can be considered in total pharyngolaryngectomy even after < 2 years of esophagectomy by blood flow evaluation using indocyanine green fluorescence.

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