Background: The purpose of the current study was to clarify the relationship between clinical features of dysphagia after esophagectomy and preoperative sarcopenia. Methods: A total of 187 cases were included in the current study. The psoas cross-sectional area on pre-treatment computed tomography was measured in thoracic esophageal cancer patients who underwent curative resection. The psoas muscle index (PMI) cut-off levels for sarcopenia were 6.36 cm2/m2 for men and 3.92 cm2/m2 for women. Swallowing function was evaluated using videofluoroscopic swallowing study (VFSS) and fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) at postoperative days 7-15, and classified according to the food intake level scale (FILS). Perioperative swallowing rehabilitation was performed in all cases. Results: In the 187 included patients, the median PMI was 5.42 cm2/m2 for men and 3.43 cm2/m2 for women, and 133 cases (71%) met the sarcopenia criteria. The FILS <4 (no oral intake) was 15% in the non-sarcopenia group, and 38% in the sarcopenia group (P = 0.003). There was no significant difference in the incidence of postoperative complications, including pneumonia and re-admission due to pneumonia, between the two groups. Preoperative sarcopenia and recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy were be independent risk factors for postoperative dysphagia. Conclusions: Sarcopenic patients with esophageal cancer develop postoperative dysphagia more often than non-sarcopenic patients. Prehabilitation and nutritional support for patients with preoperative sarcopenia could play an important role to mitigate postoperative dysphagia.
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