, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 188-195
Date: 16 Oct 2007

Robotically assisted laparoscopic transhiatal esophagectomy

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Esophagectomy is a technically demanding operation with high procedure-related morbidity and mortality rates. Minimally invasive techniques were introduced in the late 1980s in an effort to decrease the invasiveness of the procedure. Data concerning the use of robotic systems for esophageal cancer are scarce in the literature. The goal of this report is to describe the authors’ early experience using robotically assisted technology to perform transhiatal esophagectomy (RATE).


Between September 2001 and May 2004, 18 patients underwent RATE at the authors’ institution. A retrospective review of prospectively collected data was performed. Gender, age, postoperative diagnosis, operative time, conversion rate, blood loss, hospital stay, length of the follow-up period, and complications were assessed.


At the authors’ institution, 18 patients underwent RATE, including 16 men (89%), with a mean age of 54 years (range, 41–73 years). The RATE procedure was completed for all 18 patients (100%). The mean operative time was 267 ± 71 min, and estimated blood loss was 54 ml (range, 10–150 ml). The mean intensive care unit stay was 1.8 days (range, 1–5 days), and the mean hospital stay was 10 days (range, 4–38 days). A total of 12 perioperative complications occurred for 9 patients, including 6 anastomotic leaks, 1 thoracic duct injury, 1 vocal cord paralysis, 1 pleural effusion, and 2 atrial fibrillations. Anastomotic stricture was observed in six patients. There were no perioperative deaths. Pathologic examination of the surgical specimen yielded an average of 14 lymph nodes per patient (range, 7–27). During the mean follow-up period of 22 ± 8 months, 2 patients died, 2 were lost to follow-up evaluation, 3 had recurrence, and 11 were disease free.


The current study shows that RATE, with its decreased blood loss, minimal cardiopulmonary complications, and no hospital mortality, represents a safe and effective alternative for the treatment of esophageal adenocarcinoma.