Initial Experience With Minimally Invasive Ivor Lewis Esophagectomy

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We have previously reported our experience with minimally invasive esophagectomy. Our standard approach involves laparoscopic and thoracoscopic mobilization of the esophagus with a cervical esophagogastric anastomosis. In the present study we report our early experience with a modification of this technique, in which a high intrathoracic anastomosis is performed.


From 2002 to 2005, a minimally invasive Ivor Lewis esophagectomy was performed in 50 patients. The planned approach included a totally laparoscopic abdominal procedure and either a minithoracotomy or thoracoscopy. Indications for esophagectomy included short segment Barrett's esophagus with high-grade dysplasia or resectable adenocarcinoma of the gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) with minimal proximal esophageal extension..


The median age was 62.3 years (range, 38 to 79). Twenty-five patients (50%) received either preoperative chemotherapy or chemoradiation. There was one nonemergent conversion to an open procedure during laparoscopy. Planned minithoracotomy was successful in 35 patients; an additional 15 patients had the entire thoracic component performed thoracoscopically. A circular stapled anastomosis was performed in all patients. The operative mortality was 6%. Three patients (6%) developed an anastomotic leak; all were successfully managed nonoperatively. Four patients (8%) developed postoperative pneumonia. There were no recurrent laryngeal nerve injuries.


Minimally invasive Ivor Lewis esophagectomy was technically feasible and resulted in good initial results in our center, which is experienced in minimally invasive and open esophagectomy. This approach minimizes the degree of gastric mobilization, almost eliminates recurrent laryngeal nerve injury and pharyngeal dysfunction, and allows additional gastric resection margin in the case of cardia extension of GEJ tumors.

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