Original article|Articles in Press

Endoscopic closure of refractory upper GI–tracheobronchial fistulas with a novel occluder: a prospective, single-arm, single-center study (with video)

Published:December 23, 2022DOI:

      Background and Aims

      Upper GI–tracheobronchial fistula is a morbid condition with high mortality. It is a challenge for endoscopists because currently available treatments have severe limitations. In this study we assessed the efficacy and safety of an occluder we invented for endoscopic closure of refractory upper GI–tracheobronchial fistulas.


      This was a prospective, single-arm, single-center trial conducted between September 2020 and March 2022. All patients undergoing occluder placement were eligible to enroll. The primary endpoints were clinical success rate (CSR) and complete closure rate (CCR) at 3 months and safety. Secondary efficacy endpoints were technical success rates, CSRs and CCRs at 1 and 6 months, near-complete closure rates, change from baseline in body mass index (BMI), and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) at 1, 3, and 6 months.


      Twenty-eight patients (mean age, 63.2 years; 23 men) were enrolled. Eighteen through-the-scope occluders (TTSOs) and 10 through-the-overtube occluders (TTOOs) were implanted, with a technical success rate of 100%. The mean procedure time for the TTSO and TTOO groups were 28.0 ± 8.0 minutes and 31.8 ± 7.7 minutes, respectively. The CSRs at 1, 3, and 6 months were 92.9%, 96.4%, and 92.0% and the CCRs were 60.7%, 60.7%, and 60.0%, respectively. The mean BMI at 3 and 6 months and HRQoL at 1, 3, and 6 months were significantly increased compared with baseline (P < .05). Two completely occluded fistulas had 1-sided or complete healing by coverage of granulation tissue and re-epithelialized mucosa at a follow-up of 6 and 12 months. All 14 adverse events were either mild and transient or easily corrected.


      Our clinical outcomes suggest that this novel GI occluder is a safe and effective salvage option for patients with refractory upper GI–tracheobronchial fistulas. (Clinical trial registration number: ChiCTR2000038566.)


      AE (adverse event), BMI (body mass index), CCR (complete closure rate), CSO (cardiac septal occluder), CSR (clinical success rate), HRQoL (health-related quality of life), IQR (interquartile range), NCR (near-complete closure rate), TEF (tracheoesophageal fistula), TTOO (through-the-overtube occluder), TTSO (through-the-scope occluder)
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