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Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy: Early Experience and Outcomes

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Minimally invasive esophageal surgery has the potential to improve mortality, hospital stay, and functional outcomes when compared with open methods. Although technically complex, combined laparoscopic and thoracoscopic esophageal resection is feasible. A case series of 20 patients who underwent minimally invasive total esophagectomy is presented. This study was a review of a prospective database. The purpose was to evaluate early results with laparoscopic total esophagectomy for benign and malignant disease. Between January 2003 and November 2005, 20 patients underwent minimally invasive esophageal surgery. All operations were performed by the same two surgeons. Age, gender, indications for surgery, pathologic stage, operative time, blood loss, transfusion requirements, intensive care unit length of stay, hospital length of stay, postoperative complications, and mortality were recorded. Diet progression, dysphagia, and need for stricture management were also recorded. Of the 20 minimally invasive total esophagectomies performed, 18 (90%) were completed successfully. The average age of the patients was 53 years. Indications for surgery were malignancy (n = 13), carcinoma in situ in the setting of Barrett's esophagus (n = 2), and benign stricture (n = 3). The average operating time was 467 minutes (range 346–580 min). Median blood loss was 350 mL (range 150–500 mL). The median intensive care unit stay was 2 days, and the median hospital length of stay was 12 days. Pathology revealed that 7 per cent of patients had stage I disease, 27 per cent of patients had stage II disease, and 53 per cent of patients had stage III disease. There was a single mortality (5%), a cervical leak in two patients (10%), a gastric tip necrosis in one patient (5%), and tracheoesophageal fistula in one patient (5%). Major complications occurred in eight patients (40%) and minor complications in nine (50%). Thirteen (72%) patients were discharged on enteral tube feeds to supplement caloric intake. The application of minimally invasive techniques in the arena of esophageal surgery continues to evolve. This approach has the potential to improve mortality, hospital stay, and other outcomes when compared with open methods. Although technically complex, laparoscopic total esophagectomy is feasible.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: From the Department of Surgery, Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Center, Mercer University School of Medicine, Memorial Health University Medical Center, Savannah, Georgia 2: From the Department of Surgery

Publication date: 01 August 2006

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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