Minimally invasive esophagectomy: thoracoscopic esophageal mobilization for esophageal cancer with the patient in prone position

Roberto Petri, Marco Zuccolo, Marco Brizzolari, Luca Rossit, Alessandro Rosignoli, Vittorio Durastante, Gianfranco Petrin, Lucio De Cecchis, Mario Sorrentino
Surgical Endoscopy 2012, 26 (4): 1102-7

BACKGROUND: Surgical resection is the mainstay treatment for resectable esophageal cancer. Minimally invasive esophagectomy is performed with increasing frequency and proves to be a safe and effective surgical alternative to the open technique. Minimally invasive esophagectomy using thoracoscopic esophageal mobilization with the patient in prone position seems to offer some advantages with regard to surgeon ergonomics and clinical outcome.

METHODS: Between July 2005 and September 2010, 46 patients (35 men and 11 women) underwent minimally invasive esophagectomy in the prone position at the authors' institution. Three patients had previously undergone a thoracic intervention (one patient had previously undergone left pneumonectomy because of lung cancer). The preoperative indication was squamous cell carcinoma for 35 patients and adenocarcinoma for 11 patients. In one case, the histology of the biopsy samples showed a squamous cell carcinoma with neuroendocrine differentiation. Neoadjuvant treatment was administered to 15 patients.

RESULTS: All 46 patients underwent esophagectomy using minimally invasive thoracic mobilization of the esophagus with the patient in prone position. The abdominal stage of intervention was performed by laparoscopy for 37 patients and by laparotomy for 9 patients. No thoracotomic conversion was performed. In all cases, a cervical end-to-side anastomosis was performed using a circular stapler. The mean operative time was 263 min. The median intensive care unit stay was 2 days, and the median postoperative hospital stay was 15 days. The mean number of procured lymph nodes was 13. The perioperative morbidity rate was 37%, and the perioperative mortality rate was 4.4%.

CONCLUSIONS: Minimally invasive esophagectomy is safe and technically feasible. It entails a lower mortality rate and a shorter hospital stay than those reported in most open series. Thoracoscopy with the patient in prone position offers results comparable with those obtained using other minimally invasive techniques regarding the number of procured lymph nodes. This technique shows considerable advantages such as improved surgeon ergonomics, increased operative field exposure, and satisfactory respiratory results.

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