Outcomes of minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) for high-grade dysplasia of the esophagus

H C Fernando, J D Luketich, P O Buenaventura, Y Perry, N A Christie
European Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery 2002, 22 (1): 1-6

OBJECTIVE: The management of high-grade dysplasia (HGD) of the esophagus is controversial with some clinicians advocating non-operative ablation or surveillance. Minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) allows re-section of the esophagus and may minimize morbidity. This report summarizes our experience with MIE for HGD.

METHODS: A retrospective review of 28 patients who underwent MIE for a pre-operative diagnosis of HGD. MIE initially involved a laparoscopic transhiatal approach (n=1), but subsequently evolved to laparoscopy with VATS mobilization (n=27) of the esophagus.

RESULTS: From August 1996 to March 2001, 28 patients underwent MIE. There were 23 males and five females; median age was 61 (40-78) years. Median hospital stay was 5 (3-20) days and ICU stay was 1 (1-20) day. One patient required conversion to laparotomy because of dense adhesions. There were ten other patients who had successful MIE despite prior laparotomy. Median operating time was 8 (5.8-13) h. One death occurred from sepsis, pneumonia and multi-system organ failure. Complications occurred in 15 patients. In addition to the patient who died, five re-operations were required for: small bowel perforation (n=1), jejunostomy leak (n=1), pyloric dilation for gastric outlet obstruction (n=1), cholecystectomy (n=1), incision and drainage of an abdominal abscess (n=1). Final pathologies were HGD (n=17), in situ cancer (n=6) and invasive cancer (n=5). At a median follow-up of 13 (2-41) months all hospital survivors are alive and free of disease.

CONCLUSIONS: This report confirms the risk of occult cancer in patients with HGD (39% in this series) supporting the recommendation for esophagectomy. MIE can be performed with acceptable results and may minimize morbidity compared to previous reports of open esophagectomy for HGD.

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