Minimally invasive esophagectomy: early experience and outcomes

Christopher K Senkowski, Micheal T Adams, Angela N Beck, Steven T Brower
American Surgeon 2006, 72 (8): 677-83; discussion 683
Minimally invasive esophageal surgery has the potential to improve mortality, hospital stay, and functional outcomes when compared with open methods. Although technically complex, combined laparoscopic and thoracoscopic esophageal resection is feasible. A case series of 20 patients who underwent minimally invasive total esophagectomy is presented. This study was a review of a prospective database. The purpose was to evaluate early results with laparoscopic total esophagectomy for benign and malignant disease. Between January 2003 and November 2005, 20 patients underwent minimally invasive esophageal surgery. All operations were performed by the same two surgeons. Age, gender, indications for surgery, pathologic stage, operative time, blood loss, transfusion requirements, intensive care unit length of stay, hospital length of stay, postoperative complications, and mortality were recorded. Diet progression, dysphagia, and need for stricture management were also recorded. Of the 20 minimally invasive total esophagectomies performed, 18 (90%) were completed successfully. The average age of the patients was 53 years. Indications for surgery were malignancy (n = 13), carcinoma in situ in the setting of Barrett's esophagus (n = 2), and benign stricture (n = 3). The average operating time was 467 minutes (range 346-580 min). Median blood loss was 350 mL (range 150-500 mL). The median intensive care unit stay was 2 days, and the median hospital length of stay was 12 days. Pathology revealed that 7 per cent of patients had stage I disease, 27 per cent of patients had stage II disease, and 53 per cent of patients had stage III disease. There was a single mortality (5%), a cervical leak in two patients (10%), a gastric tip necrosis in one patient (5%), and tracheoesophageal fistula in one patient (5%). Major complications occurred in eight patients (40%) and minor complications in nine (50%). Thirteen (72%) patients were discharged on enteral tube feeds to supplement caloric intake. The application of minimally invasive techniques in the arena of esophageal surgery continues to evolve. This approach has the potential to improve mortality, hospital stay, and other outcomes when compared with open methods. Although technically complex, laparoscopic total esophagectomy is feasible.

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