Two Thousand Transhiatal Esophagectomies: Changing Trends, Lessons Learned

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Abstract

Objective:

“Rediscovered” in 1976, transhiatal esophagectomy (THE) has been applicable in most situations requiring esophageal resection and reconstruction. The objective of this study was to review the authors’ 30-year experience with THE and changing trends in its use.

Methods:

Using the authors’ prospective Esophagectomy Database, this single institution experience with THE was analyzed retrospectively.

Results:

Two thousand and seven THEs were performed—1063 (previously reported) between 1976 and 1998 (group I) and 944 from 1998 to 2006 (group II), 24% for benign disease, 76%, cancer. THE was possible in 98%. Stomach was the esophageal substitute in 97%. Comparing outcomes between group I and group II, statistically significant differences (P < 0.001) were observed in hospital mortality (4% vs. 1%); adenocarcinoma histology (69% vs. 86%); use of neoadjuvant chemoradiation (28% vs. 52%); mean blood loss (677 vs. 368 mL); anastomotic leak (14% vs. 9%); and discharge within 10 days (52% vs. 78%). Major complications remain infrequent: wound infection/dehiscence, 3%, atelectasis/pneumonia, 2%, intrathoracic hemorrhage, recurrent laryngeal nerve paralysis, chylothorax, and tracheal laceration, <1% each. Late functional results have been good or excellent in 73%. Aggressive preoperative conditioning, avoiding the ICU, improved pain management, and early ambulation reduce length of stay, with 50% in group II discharged within 1 week.

Conclusion:

THE refinements have reduced the historic morbidity and mortality of esophageal resection. This largest reported THE experience reinforces the value of consistent technique and a clinical pathway in managing these high acuity esophageal patients.

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