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A novel technique for lymphadenectomy along the left recurrent laryngeal nerve during minimally invasive esophagectomy: a retrospective cohort study.

BMC Surgery 2023 November 22
BACKGROUND: In the context of esophageal cancers, lymph nodes located along the left recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) exhibit significant involvement, posing significant challenges for lymphadenectomy. The objective of this study is to assess the safety and efficacy of a novel technique for lymphadenectomy called "elastic suspension of left RLN" method, comparing it with the conventional approach.

METHODS: Between January 2016 and June 2020, a total of 393 patients who underwent minimally invasive esophagectomy with gastroplasty and cervical esophagogastric anastomosis were enrolled in the study. Among them, 291 patients underwent the "elastic suspension of left RLN" method, while 102 patients underwent the conventional method. We compared the number of harvested lymph nodes along the left RLN and assessed postoperative complications between these two groups. Additionally, the overall survival (OS) rate was calculated and analyzed for the entire cohort.

RESULTS: In comparison to the conventional group, the elastic suspension group exhibited a higher yield of harvested lymph nodes along the left RLN (5.36 vs 3.07, P < 0.001). Moreover, the incidence of postoperative hoarseness was lower in the elastic suspension group (10.65% vs 18.63%, P = 0.038). The average duration of lymphadenectomy along the left RLN was 11.85 min in the elastic suspension group and 11.51 min in the conventional group, although this difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.091). Notably, the overall 5-year OS was markedly higher in the elastic suspension group compared to the conventional group (64.1% vs. 50.1%, P = 0.020).

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that the novel "elastic suspension of left RLN" method for lymphadenectomy along the left RLN in minimally invasive esophagectomy is both safe and effective. This technique holds promise for widespread adoption in esophagectomy procedures.

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