Sivelestat sodium hydrate is a selective inhibitor of neutrophil elastase (NE), and is effective in acute lung injury associated with systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS). The effect of Sivelestat for postoperative clinical courses after transthoracic esophagectomy was investigated. Consecutive patients with carcinoma of the thoracic esophagus who underwent transthoracic esophagectomy between 2003 and 2004 were assigned to the Sivelestat-treated group (n = 18), and those between 1998 and 2003 were assigned to the control group (n = 25). The morbidity rate, duration of postoperative SIRS, mechanical ventilation, and intensive care unit (ICU) stay, and the sum of the sequential organ failure assessment scores at all time points after the operation were compared. Serum NE activities and serum concentrations of TNF-α, IL-1β IL-6, and high mobility group box chromosomal protein 1 (HMGB1) were measured. Postoperative complications developed in three patients in the control group, and one in the Sivelestat-treated group. The durations of SIRS, mechanical ventilation, and ICU stay were significantly shorter in the Sivelestat-treated group. Even in patients without complications, the durations of mechanical ventilation, and ICU stay were also significantly shorter, and the arterial oxygen pressure/fraction of inspired oxygen ratio at postoperative day 1 was significantly higher in the Sivelestat-treated group. Serum NE activities and serum concentrations of IL-1β, IL-6, and HMGB1 were significantly suppressed in the Sivelestat-treated group. Postoperative Sivelestat treatment after transthoracic esophagectomy improves the condition of SIRS and postoperative clinical courses, even in patients without complications.
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