Laparoscopic versus open transhiatal esophagectomy for distal and junction cancer

Kirsten W Maas, Surya S A Y Biere, Joris J G Scheepers, Suzanne S Gisbertz, Donald L van-der-Peet, Miguel A Cuesta
Revista Española de Enfermedades Digestivas 2012, 104 (4): 197-202

BACKGROUND: the only curative treatment for esophageal cancer is surgical resection. This treatment is associated with a high morbidity rate and long in-hospital recovery period. Both transthoracic and transhiatal esophagectomies are performed worldwide. The transhiatal approach may reduce the respiratory infection rate in compromised patients with distal esophageal and gastro-esophageal (GE) cancers. Minimally invasive esophagectomy could further improve post-operative outcome. Two cohorts of laparoscopic and open transhiatal esophagectomy for cancer were compared for short- and long-term outcome.

METHODS: from January 2001 through December 2004, 50 patients who underwent laparoscopic transhiatal esophagectomy were compared to a historical group of 50 patients who had undergone open transhiatal esophagectomy between January 1998 and December 2000. Post-operative management was identical in both groups.

RESULTS: no significant differences were seen between the two groups with regard to baseline characteristics and oncological parameters including resection margin (R0 82 vs. 74%, p = 0.334) and 5-year survival. Operation time did not differ significantly between the groups. (300 vs. 280 min, p = 0.110). Median hospital stay and intensive care unit stay were significantly shorter in the laparoscopic group (13 vs. 16 days, p = 0.001 and 1 vs. 3 days, p = 0.000 respectively).

CONCLUSION: minimally invasive transhiatal esophagectomy is feasible and has the same oncological outcome as open transhiatal esophagectomy. Faster recovery without a significant longer operation time could be the major benefit of the laparoscopic transhiatal approach. To our knowledge, this is the largest comparative study in literature comparing laparoscopic transhiatal with open transhiatal esophagectomy for cancers of distal and GE junction. Randomized trials are needed to further clarify the role of laparoscopic transhiatal approach for esophageal cancer.

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