Thoracoscopic esophagectomy for esophageal cancer: feasibility and safety of robotic assistance in the prone position

Dae Joon Kim, Woo Jin Hyung, Chang Young Lee, Jin-Gu Lee, Seok Jin Haam, In-Kyu Park, Kyung Young Chung
Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery 2010, 139 (1): 53-59.e1

OBJECTIVE: To assess the feasibility and safety of robot-assisted thoracoscopic esophagectomy for esophageal cancer in the prone position.

METHODS: Twenty-one patients underwent robot-assisted thoracoscopic esophagectomy in the prone position by a surgical oncologist who had no prior experience with thoracoscopic esophagectomy. Hemodynamic and respiratory parameters were serially recorded to monitor changes in prone positioning.

RESULTS: All thoracoscopic procedures were completed with a robot-assisted technique followed by cervical esophagogastrostomy. R0 resection was achieved in 20 patients (95.2%), and the number of dissected nodes was 38.0 + or - 14.2. Robot console time was significantly reduced from 176.3 + or - 12.3 minutes in the initial 6 patients (group 1) to 81.7 + or - 16.5 minutes in the latter 15 patients (group 2) (P = .000). In group 2, there was less blood loss (P = .018), more patients could be extubated in the operating room (P = .004), and the number of dissected mediastinal nodes tended to be increased (P = .093). There was no incidence of pneumonia or 90-day mortality. Major complications included anastomotic leakage in 4 patients, vocal cord palsy in 6 patients, and intra-abdominal bleeding in 1 patient. The prone position led to an elevation of central venous pressure and mean pulmonary arterial pressure and a decrease in static lung compliance. However, cardiac index and mean arterial pressure were well maintained with the acceptable range of partial pressure of arterial oxygen and carbon dioxide.

CONCLUSION: Robotic assistance in the prone position is technically feasible and safe. Prone positioning was well tolerated, but preoperative risk assessment and meticulous anesthetic manipulation should be carried out.

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