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Alfredo A. Santillan, Jeffrey M. Farma, Kenneth L. Meredith, Nilay R. Shah, and Scott T. Kelley

Esophageal cancer represents a major public health problem worldwide. Several minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) techniques have been described and represent a safe alternative for the surgical management of esophageal cancer in selected centers with high volume and expertise in them. This article reviews the most recent and largest series evaluating MIE techniques. Recent larger series have shown MIE to be equivalent in postoperative morbidity and mortality rates to conventional surgery. MIE has been associated with less blood loss, less postoperative pain, and decreased intensive care unit and hospital length of stay compared with conventional surgery. Despite limited data, conventional surgery and MIE have shown no significant difference in survival, stage for stage. The myriad of MIE techniques complicates the debate of defining the optimal surgical approach for treating esophageal cancer. Randomized controlled trials comparing MIE with conventional open esophagectomy are needed to clarify the ideal procedure with the lowest postoperative morbidity, best quality of life after surgery, and long-term survival.