Defining Benchmarks for Transthoracic Esophagectomy: A Multicenter Analysis of Total Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy in Low Risk Patients

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To define “best possible” outcomes in total minimally invasive transthoracic esophagectomy (ttMIE).


TtMIE, performed by experts in patients with low comorbidity, may serve as a benchmark procedure for esophagectomy.

Patients and Methods:

From a cohort of 1057 ttMIE, performed over a 5-year period in 13 high-volume centers for esophageal surgery, we selected a study group of 334 patients (31.6%) that fulfilled criteria of low comorbidity (American Society of Anesthesiologists score ≤2, WHO/ECOG score ≤1, age ≤65 years, body mass index 19–29 kg/m2). Endpoints included postoperative morbidity measured by the Clavien-Dindo classification and the comprehensive complication index. Benchmark values were defined as the 75th percentile of the median outcome parameters of the participating centers to represent best achievable results.


Benchmark patients were predominantly male (82.9%) with a median age of 58 years (53–62). High intrathoracic (Ivor Lewis) and cervical esophagogastrostomy (McKeown) were performed in 188 (56.3%) and 146 (43.7%) patients, respectively. Median (IQR) ICU and hospital stay was 0 (0–2) and 12 (9–18) days, respectively. 56.0% of patients developed at least 1 complication, and 26.9% experienced major morbidity (≥grade III), mostly related to pulmonary complications (25.7%), anastomotic leakage (15.9%), and cardiac events (13.5%). Benchmark values at 30 days after hospital discharge were ≤55.7% and ≤30.8% for overall and major complications, ≤18.0% for readmission, ≤3.1% for positive resection margins, and ≥23 for lymph node yield. Benchmarks at 30 and 90 days were ≤1.0% and ≤4.6% for mortality, and ≤40.8 and ≤42.8 for the comprehensive complication index, respectively.


This outcome analysis of patients with low comorbidity undergoing ttMIE may serve as a reference to evaluate surgical performance in major esophageal resection.

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