Minimally invasive oesophageal resection for distal oesophageal cancer: a review of the literature

Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl. 2006;(243):123-34. doi: 10.1080/00365520600664425.


Oesophagus resection is adequate treatment for some benign oesophageal diseases, especially caustic and peptic stenosis and end-stage motility dysfunction. However, the most frequent indications for oesophageal resection are the high-grade dysplasia of Barrett oesophagus and non-metastasized oesophageal cancer. Different procedures have been developed for performing oesophageal resection given the 5-year survival rate of only 18% among patients operated on. A disadvantage of the conventional approach is the high morbidity rate, especially with pulmonary complications. Minimally invasive oesophageal resections, which were first performed in 1991, may reduce this important morbidity and preserve the oncologic outcome. The first reports of morbidity and respiratory complications with this approach were disappointing and it seemed likely that the procedure would have to be abandoned. However, in the past 5 years, Japanese groups and the group of Luketich in Pittsburgh have given these techniques an important impetus. The outcomes of the new series are different from those in the beginning period, and are leading to an enormous expansion worldwide. Important factors behind the change are standardization of the operative technique, the experience of many surgeons with more advanced laparoscopic procedures, important improvements in instruments for dissection and division of tissues, a better technique in use of anaesthesia, and a better selection of patients for operation. Two minimally invasive techniques are being perfected: the three-stage operation by right thoracoscopy and laparoscopy, and the transhiatal laparoscopic approach. The former may be applied successfully for any tumour in the oesophagus, whereas the latter seems ideal for distal oesophageal and oesophagogastric junction tumours. This review article discusses all these aspects, giving special attention to indications and operative technique.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia
  • Barrett Esophagus / complications
  • Barrett Esophagus / surgery
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Esophagectomy* / adverse effects
  • Esophagectomy* / instrumentation
  • Humans
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
  • Robotics