Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) is an effective method for providing alimentation in patients with upper aerodigestive tract carcinoma. Multiple complications of this procedure have been reported, ranging from leakage around the tube to tumor seeding of the abdominal cavity. This study was undertaken to determine whether the timing of PEG tube placement with respect to primary tumor extirpation led to a difference in the number and severity of observed complications. The medical records of 43 patients with head and neck carcinoma who had PEG tubes placed from 1995 to 1996 were retrospectively reviewed. Comparisons of timing of PEG tube placement, complication, location, and stage of the primary tumor were performed. In addition, the use of adjuvant therapy with respect to the time of PEG tube placement and complications was evaluated. Of these, 23% were done before and 30% during surgery at the time of primary tumor resection (9 of 13 were after primary removal). One patient had an intraabdominal abscess. Minor complications occurred in 15 of 43 patients (35%) and included granulation tissue at the PEG site, leakage, and tube displacement. Eight of the 9 patients who underwent intraoperative PEG after tumor resection had no complications. Patients who underwent PEG during or after surgery had significantly fewer complications than those who underwent preoperative PEG or had unresectable tumors (P = 0.038). The largest number of complications occurred in patients who underwent preoperative PEG (57%) followed by patients whose tumors were unresectable (31%). There was no statistical difference with regard to tumor location or postoperative x-ray therapy in PEG complications. This study demonstrates that PEG tube placement after tumor resection has the lowest incidence of postoperative complications. Performing PEGs intraoperatively after tumor resection can prevent the need for additional anesthesia to provide alimentation in patients with upper aerodigestive tract carcinoma.
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