Background: Although considered complex and challenging, esophagectomy remains the best potentially curable treatment option for resectable esophageal and esophagogastric junction (AEG) carcinomas. The optimal surgical approach and technique as well as the extent of lymphadenectomy, particularly regarding quality of life and short- and long-term outcomes, are still a matter of debate. To lower perioperative morbidity, we combined the advantages of a one-cavity approach with extended lymph node dissection (usually achieved by only a two-cavity approach) and developed a modified single-cavity transhiatal approach for esophagectomy.
Methods: The aim of this study was to evaluate the outcome of an extended transhiatal esophageal resection with radical bilateral mediastinal en bloc lymphadenectomy (eTHE). A prospective database of 166 patients with resectable cancers of the esophagus (including adenocarcinomas of the AEG types I and II) were analyzed. Patients were treated between 2001 and 2017 with eTHE at a tertiary care university center. Relevant patient characteristics and outcome parameters were collected and analyzed. The primary endpoint was 5-year overall survival. Secondary outcomes included short-term morbidity, mortality, radicalness of en bloc resection and oncologic efficacy.
Results: The overall survival rates at 1, 3 and 5 years were 84, 70, and 61.0%, respectively. The in-hospital mortality rate after eTHE was 1.2%. Complications with a Clavien-Dindo score of III/IV occurred in 31 cases (18.6%). A total of 25 patients (15.1%) had a major pulmonary complication. The median hospital stay was 17 days (interquartile range (IQR) 12). Most patients (n = 144; 86.7%) received neoadjuvant treatment. The median number of lymph nodes resected was 25 (IQR 17). The R0 resection rate was 97%.
Conclusion: In patients with esophageal cancer, eTHE without thoracotomy resulted in excellent long-term survival, an above average number of resected lymph nodes and an acceptable postoperative morbidity and mortality.