Preoperative laparoscopy in management of patients with carcinoma of the esophagus and of the esophagogastric junction

J Surg Oncol. 1997 Jul;65(3):171-4. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-9098(199707)65:3<171::aid-jso5>;2-3.


Background and objectives: Adequate preoperative staging of patients with esophageal and cardia carcinoma offers the potential for a rational choice of the therapy. The aim of this study was to assess the diagnostic value of laparoscopy compared to ultrasonography (US) and computed tomography (CT) in detecting intra-abdominal metastatic spread.

Methods: Between November 1995 and December 1996, 36 patients with adenocarcinoma of the cardia and 14 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the lower third of the esophagus were studied with CT scan and US, followed by laparoscopy performed at the same session of planned surgical resection. Mean operative time of laparoscopy was 20 minutes (range 15-55 min). There was no mortality nor morbidity related to the laparoscopic procedure.

Results: Laparoscopy lead to a change of the therapeutic approach in five patients (10%): three patients with peritoneal carcinosis undetected at the imaging examinations, and one patient with advanced liver cirrhosis with signs of portal hypertension did not undergo resection; conversely, one patient with a liver hemangioma simulating a metastatic mass at CT/US underwent esophagogastric resection. Laparoscopy showed a higher sensitivity than US and CT in detecting peritoneal metastases (71% vs. 14% vs. 14%, respectively), macroscopic nodal metastases (78% vs. 11% vs. 55%), and liver metastases (86% vs. 71%).

Conclusions: Laparoscopy represents a safe and effective diagnostic procedure in the preoperative staging of esophageal and cardia carcinoma; it provides the potential to avoid unnecessary exploratory laparotomies and to select the most appropriate treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Cardia
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Esophagogastric Junction
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stomach Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology