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Ann Thorac Surg. 2001 Dec;72(6):1918-24; discussion 1924-5.

Transthoracic esophagectomy with radical mediastinal and abdominal lymph node dissection and cervical esophagogastrostomy for esophageal carcinoma.

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  • 1Division of Thoracic Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



Several techniques for esophageal resection have been reported. This study examines the morbidity, mortality, and early survival of patients after transthoracic esophagectomy for esophageal carcinoma using current staging techniques and neoadjuvant therapy. The technique includes right thoracotomy, laparotomy, and cervical esophagogastrostomy (total thoracic esophagectomy) with radical mediastinal and abdominal lymph node dissection.


Three hundred forty-two patients had surgery for esophageal carcinoma between 1989 and 2000 at our institution. Two hundred fifty consecutive patients had esophagectomy using this technique. Kaplan-Meier curves and univariate and multivariate analyses were performed by postsurgical pathologic stage.


Median age was 62.7 years (31 to 86 years). Fifty-nine were female. Eighty-one percent (202) had induction chemotherapy (all patients with clinical T3/4 or N1). Early postoperative complications included recurrent laryngeal nerve injury (14% [35]), chylothorax (9%, [22]), and leak (8%, [19]). Median length of stay was 13 days (5 to 330 days). In-hospital or 30-day mortality was 3.6% (9). Overall survival at 3 years was 44%; median survival was 25 months, and 3-year survival by posttreatment pathologic stage was: stage 0 (complete response) (n = 60), 56%; stage I (n = 32), 65%; stage IIA (n = 67), 41%; stage IIB (n = 30), 46%; and stage III (n = 49), 17%. Mean follow-up was 24 months (SEM 1.6, 0 to 138 months). Five patients with tumor in situ, 6 patients with stage IV disease, and 1 patient who could not be staged (12 pts) were excluded from survival and multivariate calculations. In univariate and different models of multivariate analysis, age more than 65 years, posttreatment T3, and nodal involvement were predictive of poor survival. For univariate analysis, p = 0.002, p = 0.004, p = 0.02, respectively; for multivariate analysis, p = 0.001, p = 0.003, p = 0.02, respectively.


Total thoracic esophagectomy with node dissection for esophageal cancer appears to have acceptable morbidity and mortality with encouraging survival results in the setting of neoadjuvant therapy. Patients who show complete response after induction chemoradiotherapy appear to have improved long-term survival.

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