Background: Minimally invasive oesophagectomy (MIO; thoracoscopy, laparoscopy, cervical anastomosis) is a complex procedure and few substantial series have been published. This study documented the morbidity, mortality and challenges of adopting MIO in a specialist unit in the UK.
Methods: A prospective group of 77 patients was listed consecutively with the intention of performing MIO. Three other patients underwent open oesophagectomy during the study period.
Results: MIO was attempted in 77 patients, completed successfully in 70, abandoned in six patients (8 per cent) with unsuspected metastatic disease, and converted to a thoracoscopic anastomosis in one patient. There was one in-hospital death (1 per cent). Complications occurred in 33 patients (47 per cent), including nine gastric conduit-related complications (13 per cent). Median lymph node harvest was 21 (range 7-48) nodes. Mean overall and disease-free survival times were 35 and 33 months respectively. Median disease-free survival for patients with stage III disease was 26 months.
Conclusion: MIO can be performed with acceptable mortality and morbidity rates in an unselected series of patients. There was more morbidity related to gastric tube ischaemia than was expected.
2008 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.