Prevention of postoperative chylothorax with thoracic duct ligation during video-assisted thoracoscopic esophagectomy for cancer

Wei Guo, Yun-Ping Zhao, Yao-Guang Jiang, Hui-Jun Niu, Xue-Hai Liu, Zheng Ma, Ru-Wen Wang
Surgical Endoscopy 2012, 26 (5): 1332-6

BACKGROUND: Minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) is a feasible technique that has been shown to be safe for the treatment of esophageal cancer. Chylothorax remains a challenging and potentially life-threatening postoperative complication of MIE. In this retrospective series, we evaluated the results of preventive intraoperative thoracic duct ligation in patients who underwent video-assisted thoracoscopic esophagectomy for cancer.

METHODS: From May 2009 to June 2010, 70 video-assisted thoracoscopic esophagectomies for cancer of the esophagus (group A) were performed without prophylactic thoracic duct ligation. Since June 2010, 65 patients (group B) with esophageal cancer underwent video-assisted thoracoscopic esophagectomy with routine ligation of the thoracic duct during the operation.

RESULTS: No intraoperative or postoperative complications directly related to thoracic duct ligation were recorded. Postoperative chylothorax occurred in seven patients in group A and in one patient in group B (P = 0.0375).

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that thoracic duct ligation during video-assisted thoracoscopic esophagectomy for cancer is an effective and safe method for prevention of postoperative chylothorax.

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