Clinical advantage of transmediastinal esophagectomy in terms of postoperative respiratory complications

Int J Clin Oncol. 2023 Jun;28(6):748-755. doi: 10.1007/s10147-023-02328-8. Epub 2023 Mar 16.


Background: Although the transmediastinal approach as a radical esophagectomy for esophageal carcinoma patients has attracted attention, its advantages over the transthoracic approach remain unclear. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of transmediastinal esophagectomy (TME) in terms of postoperative respiratory complications compared to that of open transthoracic esophagectomy (TTE).

Methods: We reviewed patients with thoracic and abdominal esophageal carcinoma who underwent TME or TTE between February 2014 and November 2021. We compared postoperative respiratory complications as the primary outcome. The secondary outcomes included perioperative operation time, blood loss, postoperative complications, and the number of harvested mediastinal lymph nodes.

Results: Overall, 60 and 54 patients underwent TME and TTE, respectively. The baseline characteristics were similar between the two groups, except for age and histological type. There were no intraoperative lethal complications in either group. The incidence of respiratory complications was significantly lower in the TME group than in the TTE group (6.7 vs. 22.2%, p = 0.03). The TME group had a shorter operation time (403 vs. 451 min, p < 0.01), less blood loss (107 vs. 253 mL, p < 0.01), and slightly higher anastomotic leakage (11.7 vs. 5.6%, p = 0.33). The number of harvested lymph nodes was similar in both groups (24 vs. 26, p = 0.10). Multivariate analysis revealed that TME is an independent factor in reducing respiratory complications (odds ratio = 0.27, p = 0.04).

Conclusions: TME for esophageal carcinoma was performed safely. TME was superior to TTE in terms of postoperative respiratory complications; however, the relatively higher frequency of anastomotic leakage should be considered and requires further evaluation.

Keywords: Esophageal carcinoma; Mediastinoscopy; Postoperative respiratory complication; Transmediastinal esophagectomy; Transthoracic esophagectomy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anastomotic Leak
  • Carcinoma* / surgery
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Esophagectomy / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision / adverse effects
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies