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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1996 Dec;112(6):1533-40; discussion 1540-1.

Thoracoscopic en bloc total esophagectomy with radical mediastinal lymphadenectomy.

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  • 1Second Department of Surgery, Tohoku University School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan.



Total esophagectomy with en bloc mediastinal lymphadenectomy for cancer carries a substantial morbidity and mortality rate. To investigate the feasibility of thoracoscopic technique, we carried out an extensive laboratory study. Encouraged by our excellent results, we conducted a clinical trial.


From September 1994 to September 1995, 39 patients thoracic esophageal cancer lesions not invading surrounding organs underwent total esophagectomy with mediastinal lymphadenectomy by means of thoracoscopy. Ages ranged from 47 to 86 years. The procedures were conventional except for the thoracic portion, which was performed as a thoracoscopic procedure with six trocar holes instead of thoracotomy. All harvested lymph nodes were counted for each station. Spirometric data and plethysmographically determined vital capacity were measured before and after operation for all patients.


All procedures were accomplished as scheduled, and none was converted to open thoracotomy. The operating time was 200 +/- 41 minutes (mean +/- standard deviation). Estimated blood loss was 270 +/- 157 ml. The harvested lymph nodes numbered 19.7 +/- 11.1 per patient. Seventeen patients (45%) had positive lymph nodes. There were no in-hospital deaths within 30 days. Twenty-two patients did not require postoperative ventilatory support. Vital capacity decreased to 85% +/- 11% of the preoperative values, and forced expiratory volume in 1 second decreased to 82% +/- 16%.


Thoracoscopic mediastinal lymphadenectomy is technically feasible, and its completeness is comparable to that of the open technique. The decline in pulmonary function is significantly less than that seen in our previous experience with the open technique.

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