Thoracoscopic and laparoscopic esophagectomy for benign and malignant disease: lessons learned from 46 consecutive procedures

Ninh T Nguyen, Peter Roberts, David M Follette, Ryan Rivers, Bruce M Wolfe
Journal of the American College of Surgeons 2003, 197 (6): 902-13

BACKGROUND: Transhiatal and transthoracic esophagectomy are common approaches for esophageal resection. The literature is limited regarding the combined thoracoscopic and laparoscopic approach to esophagectomy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the outcomes of combined thoracoscopic and laparoscopic esophagectomy for the treatment of benign and malignant esophageal disease.

STUDY DESIGN: We performed a retrospective chart review of 46 consecutive minimally invasive esophagectomies performed between August 1998 and September 2002. Indications for esophagectomy were carcinoma (n = 38), Barrett's esophagus with high-grade dysplasia (n = 3), and recalcitrant stricture (n = 5). Of 38 patients with carcinoma 23 (61%) had neoadjuvant therapy. The main outcome measures were operative time, blood loss, length of intensive care unit and hospital stay, conversion rate, morbidity, mortality, pathology, disease recurrence, and survival.

RESULTS: Approaches to esophagectomy were thoracoscopic and laparoscopic esophagectomy (n = 41), thoracoscopic and laparoscopic Ivor Lewis resection (n = 3), abdominal only laparoscopic esophagogastrectomy (n = 1), and hand-assisted laparoscopic transhiatal esophagectomy (n = 1). Minimally invasive esophagectomy was successfully completed in 45 (97.8%) of 46 patients. The mean operative time was 350 +/- 75 minutes and the mean blood loss was 279 +/- 184 mL. The median length of intensive care unit stay was 2 days and median length of stay was 8 days. Major complications occurred in 17.4% of patients and minor complications occurred in 10.8%. Late complications were seen in 26.1% of patients. The overall mortality was 4.3%. Among the 38 patients who underwent esophagectomy for cancer the 3-year survival was 57%. In a mean followup of 26 months there was no trocar site or neck wound recurrences.

CONCLUSIONS: A thoracoscopic and laparoscopic approach to esophagectomy is technically feasible and safe for the treatment of benign and malignant esophageal disease. With a mean followup of 26 months thoracoscopic and laparoscopic esophagectomy appears to be an oncologically acceptable surgical approach for the treatment of esophageal cancer.

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