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Surg Clin North Am. 2005 Jun;85(3):593-610.

Transhiatal esophagectomy.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Section of Thoracic Surgery, University of Michigan Medical Center, 2120 Taubman Center, 1500 E. Medical Center Drive, Box 0344, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Controversy still remains regarding the appropriateness of THE asa cancer operation. Critics argue that without an en bloc mediastinal lymphadenectomy, THE does not provide accurate staging or the potential for a curative procedure; however, operative margins are similar after transthoracic and transhiatal esophagectomy, and van Sandick and co-workers reported that 73% of margins were microscopically negative. In many cases, esophageal carcinoma appears to be a systemic disease at the time of diagnosis. According to Orringer and colleagues, 46% of patients have Stage III or IV disease at the time of operation, and Altorki and co-authors found that 35% of patients thought to be potentially curable were found to have occult cervical lymph node disease after three-field lymph node dissection. In addition, survival after THE is similar to that reported after transthoracic esophagectomy as well as radical esophagectomy with mediastinal lymphadenectomy. The most important determinants of survival appear to be the biologic behavior of the tumor and the stage at the time of resection rather than the operative approach, and esophageal carcinoma will likely require systemic therapy for a cure. Transhiatal esophagectomy has been used increasingly in the resection of benign and malignant disease, and has several potential advantages over transthoracic esophagectomy, including significantly decreased respiratory complications and mediastinitis due to the avoidance of thoracotomy and intrathoracic anastomosis. In a meta-analysis of fifty studies comparing transthoracic and transhiatal resection, Hulscher et al found significantly higher early morbidity and mortality rates after transthoracic resections, which was confirmed in a later randomized study of 220 patients(Table 2). Survival after THE is also equivalent to or better than that seen after transthoracic esophagectomy, and transhiatal esophagectomy should be considered in all patients requiring esophagectomy for benign or malignant disease.

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