, Volume 16, Issue 9, pp 1768-1774
Date: 10 Jul 2012

Refinement of Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy Techniques After 15 Years of Experience

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In an effort to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with open esophagectomy, a minimally invasive approach to esophagectomy was introduced at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in 1996. The objective of this article is to discuss the optimization and refinement of minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) techniques over the 15-year experience at UPMC. We also reviewed the literature on technical improvements in MIE.


Literature highlights for MIE and related meta-analyses comparing open esophagectomy and MIE were reviewed. The rationale and outcomes of techniques refinements were discussed in detail.


Most meta-analyses and systematic reviews confirm the feasibility and safety of MIE and suggest similar oncologic outcomes as compared with open esophagectomy. Since 1996, over 1,000 minimally invasive esophagectomies have been performed at UPMC. We have made several refinements to the MIE procedure that we believe significantly improved our surgical outcomes. It included adjustment of width of the gastric conduit, application of omental flap, and conversion from minimally invasive, three-hole esophagectomy to minimally invasive Ivor Lewis esophagectomy.


MIE became a mainstay in the surgical treatment of esophageal cancer at UPMC. The technical improvements detailed above make the UPMC approach to MIE a feasible, safe, and efficient procedure.

Jie Zhang and Rui Wang contributed equally to this work.