Background: The aim of this study was to analyze the early postoperative outcome of esophageal cancer treated by subtotal esophageal resection, gastric interposition and either intrathoracic or cervical anastomosis in a single center study.
Methods: 72 patients who received either a cervical or intrathoracic anastomosis after esophageal resection for esophageal cancer were matched by age and tumor stage. Collected data from these patients were analyzed retrospectively regarding morbidity and mortality rates.
Results: Anastomotic leakage rate was significantly lower in the intrathoracic anastomosis group than in the cervical anastomosis group (4 of 36 patients (11%) vs. 11 of 36 patients (31%); p = 0.040). The hospital stay was significantly shorter in the intrathoracic anastomosis group compared to the cervical anastomosis group (14 (range 10-110) vs. 26 days (range 12 - 105); p = 0.012). Wound infection and temporary paresis of the recurrent laryngeal nerve occurred significantly more often in the cervical anastomosis group compared to the intrathoracic anastomosis group (28% vs. 0%; p = 0.002 and 11% vs. 0%; p = 0.046). The overall In-hospital mortality rate was 6% (4 of 72 patients) without any differences between the study groups.
Conclusions: The present data support the assumption that the transthoracic approach with an intrathoracic anastomosis compared to a cervical esophagogastrostomy is the safer and more beneficial procedure in patients with carcinoma of the lower and middle third of the esophagus due to a significant reduction of anastomotic leakage, wound infection, paresis of the recurrent laryngeal nerve and shorter hospital stay.