Combined laparoscopic and thoracoscopic Ivor Lewis esophagectomy for esophageal cancer: initial experience from China

Hui Li, Bin Hu, Bin You, Jin-bai Miao, Yi-li Fu, Qi-rui Chen
Chinese Medical Journal 2012, 125 (8): 1376-80

BACKGROUND: Minimally invasive Ivor Lewis esophagectomy was usually performed with either hand-sewn or circular stapler anastomosis through a small thoracotomy or using a side-to-side stapler anastomotic technique. This study aimed to present our initial results of Ivor Lewis esophagectomy using a circular-stapled anastomosis with transoral anvil technique.

METHODS: Six patients with esophageal cancer underwent minimally invasive Ivor Lewis esophagectomy with an intrathoracic circular-stapled end-to-end anastomosis. The abdominal portion was operated on laparoscopically, and the thoracic portion was done using thoracoscopic techniques. A 25 mm anvil connected to a 90 cm long delivery tube was introduced transorally to the esophageal stump in a tilted position, the anvil head was then connected to circular stapler. The anastomosis was completed under direct thoracoscopic view.

RESULTS: A total of six patients in this report successfully underwent total laparoscopic and thoracoscopic Ivor Lewis esophagectomy with a circular-stapled anastomosis using a transoral anvil. They were five male and one female patients, and had a mean age of 55 years (range, 38-69 years). The thoracic and abdominal operations were successfully performed without any intraoperative complications or conversion to laparotomy or thoracotomy. The passage of the anvil head was technically easy and successful in all six cases. The mean overall operative time was (260 ± 42) minutes (range, 220-300 minutes), and the mean estimated blood loss was (520 ± 160) ml (range, 130-800 ml). Patients resumed a liquid oral diet on postoperative day seven. The median length of hospital stay was 17 days (range, 9-25 days). The postoperative pathological diagnosis was esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in five patients and esophageal small cell carcinoma in one patient. Tumors were staged as T(2)N(0)M(0) in three cases, T(2)N(1)M(0) in one case, and T(3)N(0)M(0) in two cases. During the mean follow-up of 2.5 months (range, 2-4 months), there were no intraoperative technical failure of the anastomosis or major postoperative complications such as leak or stricture.

CONCLUSIONS: The initial results of this small series suggest that minimally invasive Ivor Lewis esophagectomy for malignant esophageal tumor is technically feasible. However, further multi-center prospective studies and thorough evaluation are needed to evaluate the long-term results.

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