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Enhancing Lymph Node Yield in Gastric Cancer Resection: Impact of Back Table Dissection on Number of Lymph Node Examined.

American Surgeon 2024 May 7
INTRODUCTION: During gastric cancer resection, back table dissection (BTD) involves examination and separation of lymph node (LN) packets from the surgical specimen based on LN stations, which are sent to pathology as separately labeled specimens. With potential impact on clinical outcomes, we aimed to explore how BTD affects number of LNs examined.

METHODS: A retrospective review of a gastric cancer database was performed, including all cases of gastrectomy with D2 lymphadenectomy from January 2009 to March 2022. Back table dissection and conventional groups were compared using Mann-Whitney U and Fisher's exact tests. Multiple linear regression modeling was used to identify potential predictors of number of LN examined.

RESULTS: A total of 174 patients were identified: 39 (22%) BTD and 135 (78%) conventional. More patients in the BTD group underwent neoadjuvant chemotherapy (62% vs 29%, P < .05). Compared to the conventional group, the BTD group had a greater number of LNs examined (42 [26-59] vs 21[15-33], median [IQR], P < .001), lower LN positivity ratio (.01 vs .07, P = .013), and greater number of LNs in patients with BMI >35 (32.5[27.5-39] vs 22[13-27], P = .041). A multiple linear regression model controlling for age, BMI, preoperative N stage, neoadjuvant chemotherapy, surgeon experience, and operative approach identified BTD as a significant positive predictor of number of LN examined (β = 19.7, P = .001).

CONCLUSION: Back table dissection resulted in improved LN yield during gastric cancer resection. As a simple technical addition, BTD helps enhance pathology examination and improve surgeon awareness, which may ultimately translate to improve oncologic outcomes.

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