Open transthoracic or transhiatal esophagectomy versus minimally invasive esophagectomy in terms of morbidity, mortality and survival
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Background: Surgical treatment of esophageal cancer is associated with a high rate of morbidity and mortality even in specialized centers. Minimally invasive surgery has been proposed to decrease these complications. Methods: The authors present their results regarding postoperative complications and the survival rate at 3 years, comparing the classic open procedures (transthoracic or transhiatal esophagectomy) with minimally invasive surgery. Surgical procedures were performed according to procedures published elsewhere. Results: The study enrolled 166 patients who underwent surgery between 1990 and 2003. Open transthoracic surgery was performed for 60 patients. In this group of patients, postoperative mortality was observed in 11% of the cases. Major, minor, and late complications were observed in 61.6% of the patients, and the 3-year survival rate was 30% for this group. Open transhiatal surgery was performed for 59 patients. The morbidity, mortality, and 3-year rate were almost the same as for the transthoracic surgery group. For the 47 patients submitted to minimally invasive procedures (thoracoscopic and laparoscopic), the complications and mortality rates were significantly reduced (38.2% and 6.4%, respectively). For the patients submitted to minimally invasive surgery, the 3-year survival rate was 45.4%. It is important to clarify that the patients submitted to minimally invasive surgery manifested early stages of the diseases, and that this the reason why the morbimortality and survival rates were better. Conclusions: The transthoracic and transhiatal open approaches have similar early and late results. Minimally invasive surgery is an option for patients with esophageal carcinoma, with reported results similar to those for open surgery. This approach is indicated mainly for selected patients with early stages of the disease.