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Ann Surg. 2008 Dec;248(6):1081-91. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e31818b72b5.

Minimally invasive esophagectomy: lessons learned from 104 operations.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of California, Irvine Medical Center, Orange, CA 92868, USA.



To review the outcomes of 104 consecutive minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) procedures for the treatment of benign and malignant esophageal disease.


Although minimally invasive surgical approaches to esophagectomy have been reported since 1992, MIE is still considered investigational at most institutions.


This prospective study evaluates 104 MIE procedures performed between August 1998 and September 2007. Main outcome measures include operative techniques, operative times, blood loss, length of stay, conversion rates, morbidities, and mortalities.


Indications for surgery were esophageal cancer (n = 80), Barrett esophagus with high-grade dysplasia (n = 6), recalcitrant stricture (n = 8), gastrointestinal stromal tumor (n = 3), and gastric cardia cancer (n = 7). Surgical approaches included thoracoscopic/laparoscopic esophagectomy with a cervical anastomosis (n = 47), minimally invasive Ivor Lewis esophagectomy (n = 51), laparoscopic hand-assisted blunt transhiatal esophagectomy (n = 5), and laparoscopic proximal gastrectomy (n = 1). There were 77 males. The mean age was 65 years. Three patients (2.9%) required conversion to a laparotomy. The median ICU and hospital stays were 2 and 8 days, respectively. Major complications occurred in 12.5% of patients and minor complications in 15.4% of patients. The incidence of leak was 9.6% and of anastomotic stricture was 26%. The 30-day mortality was 1.9% with an in-hospital mortality of 2.9%. The mean number of lymph nodes retrieved was 13.8.


Minimally invasive esophagectomy is feasible with a low conversion rate, acceptable morbidity, and low mortality. Our preferred operative approach is the laparoscopic\thoracoscopic Ivor Lewis resection, which provides a tension-free intrathoracic anastomosis.

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