The distressingly low resectability rate of carcinoma of the oesophagus and gastric cardia emphasises the need for palliative restoration of the act of swallowing. Side-to-side oesophagogastrostomy was performed in 10 cases of unresectable tumours. Eight anastomoses were made low in the left chest for lower third oesophageal and cardiac lesions and two high on the right for midoesophageal tumours. There were no anastomotic leaks or other complications, and no postoperative deaths. All patients swallowed well for an average of five months until their deaths. The decision to use this procedure is made at the time of thoracotomy when resection of the cancer is impossible because of local invasion and when sufficient proximal oesophagus is available for the anastomosis. The operation involves a single suture line only. It provides immediate palliation of dysphagia and makes unnecessary additional technical manoeuvres such as preparation of colonic or jejunal loops insertion of endoluminal tubes, or even transection of the oesophagus, pyloroplasty, gastrostomy or cervical oesophagostomy. It does not interfere with any subsequent radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
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