Influence of N-Acetylcysteine on Morbidity, Oxygenation and Cytokine Levels in Partial or Total Esophagectomy for Cancer

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Basic Trial Information

PhaseTypeStatusAgeSponsorProtocol IDs
Phase IVBiomarker/Laboratory analysis, Supportive careCompleted20 to 90Other2005DR4333

Trial Description


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effect of high-dose n-acetylcysteine on inflammatory reaction, pulmonary morbidity, oxygenation and quality of life in patients undergoing transthoracic, partial or total resection of the esophagus for cancer.

Further Study Information

Cancer of the esophagus has a poor long term prognosis as well as high perioperative morbidity. Pulmonary complications play thereby a major role. The standard procedure is either a combined transabdominal/transthoracic approach, which allows better visualisation of the tumor and more radical surgery (which may increase R0 resections and consequently overall survival) or a blunt transhiatal technique. In Zurich, Basel and Lucerne, the combined technique is the standard procedure. The combined surgical approach, pre-existing pulmonary disorders, poor nutritional status and the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines may be important contributing factors to pulmonary complications such as pneumonia, atelectasis, pleural effusions and the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) has been shown to have direct and indirect oxygen scavenging abilities. In severe sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome, positive effects of NAC on morbidity and mortality were discovered. Aim of this study is to assess the influence of NAC on morbidity, oxygenation parameters and cytokine levels.

According to power analysis, 90 patients have to be included in the trial. A multicenter approach was chosen to finish the study within 3 years. Respective to the average number of operations per institution and year, the following distribution is planned: Triemli Hospital 40, University Hospital Basel 30, Kantonsspital Lucerne 20. Inclusion criteria for this trial are patients undergoing thoraco-abdomino-cervical or abdomino-thoracic esophagectomy for cancer between 20 and 90 years and given informed consent. Exclusion criteria are known allergy or hypersensitivity to NAC and pregnancy. Patients are randomised to receive either high dose N-Acetylcysteine administered perioperatively and postoperatively for three days (150mg/kg perioperatively and 50mg/kg days 1-3) or placebo (glucose 5%).

Pre-, peri- and postoperatively cytokines (IL-1, IL-1ra, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, TNF-α), are quantified by enzyme-linked immuno assay (ELISA) from blood, broncho-alveolar lavage and lavage of pleural space. Leucocytes, C-reactive protein, Procalcitonin and oxygenation parameters (arterial blood gas analyses = ABGA) are regularly measured. Morbidity and mortality is assessed. Furthermore, all patients are asked to complete a quality of life questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-OES18 and 30, SF-36) before and after the operation (12, 24, 36 months post-op).

Eligibility Criteria

Inclusion Criteria:

  • elective, abdomino-thoracic esophagectomy
  • elective, thoraco-abdomino-cervical esophagectomy
  • age 20-90 years
  • informed consent given

Exclusion Criteria:

  • emergency procedures
  • patients with increased bronchorrhoea
  • hypersensitivity against n-acetylcysteine
  • pregnancy
  • lactation

Trial Contact Information

Trial Lead Organizations/Sponsors


  • City Hospital Triemli
Urs Zingg, PD, MD, Principal Investigator
Andreas Zollinger, MD, Study Director

Link to the current record.
NLM Identifier NCT00512265 processed this data on November 12, 2014

Note: Information about this trial is from the database. The versions designated for health professionals and patients contain the same text. Minor changes may be made to the record to standardize the names of study sponsors, sites, and contacts. only lists sites that are recruiting patients for active trials, whereas lists all sites for all trials. Questions and comments regarding the presented information should be directed to