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Minerva Chirurgica 2002 December;57(6):795-810


language: English

Esophagectomy for esophageal cancer

Swanson S. J., Linden P.


This review considers the esophagectomy techniques in the treatment of esophageal cancer and provides the guidelines for optimizing the patients' chances at cure, minimizing the risk of mediastinal enteric leak (which carries a mortality rate as high as 50%) and minimizing associated pulmonary insufficiency and infection. The 4 most commonly used routes for resection and replacement include a transhiatal, transthoracic (Ivor-Lewis), tri-incisional (right chest then simultaneous abdominal and left neck), and left chest (distal tumors). Each of these techniques will be described as will the use of colon and jejunum for esophageal replacement. The healthy stomach is the preferred conduit for esophageal replacement. The stomach is well vascularized, easily reaches to the neck, and requires only a single anastomosis for re-establishing intestinal continuity. When the stomach is not available (usually because of prior surgery or disease) the choice of conduits include colon and jejunum. With respect to minimally invasive esophagectomy for esophageal cancer, several groups have significant experience with this and report excellent results. This is an evolving technique but holds much promise for improving the quality of life of patients with cancer without compromising their survival. In locally advanced middle third tumors, thoracotomy and dissection under direct vision's desirable and improves the safety of the operation. The same may apply to tumors receiving neoadjuvant therapy. For tumors of the distal esophagus, transhiatal, tri-incisional, and Ivor-Lewis resection are probably equally as safe, and appear to result in equivalent long-term survival. An intrathoracic anastomotic leak is disastrous, carrying a mortality rate of up to 50%. Any surgeon who performs esophagectomy with an intrathoracic anastomosis must do so with a low incidence of leakage, certainly under 5%. Consideration should be given to a cervical placement if there are factors increasing the risk such as the use of induction therapy.

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