Robotic Esophagectomy for Cancer: Early Results and Lessons Learned

Academic Article


  • Minimally invasive esophagectomy with intrathoracic dissection and anastomosis is increasingly performed. Our objectives are to report our operative technique, early results and lessons learned. This is a retrospective review of 85 consecutive patients who were scheduled for minimally invasive Ivor Lewis esophagectomy (laparoscopic or robotic abdominal and robotic chest) for esophageal cancer. Between 4/2011 and 3/2015, 85 (74 men, median age: 63) patients underwent robotic Ivor Lewis esophageal resection. In all, 64 patients (75%) had preoperative chemoradiotherapy, 99% had esophageal cancer, and 99% had an R0 resection. There were no abdominal or thoracic conversions for bleeding. There was 1 abdominal conversion for the inability to completely staple the gastric conduit. The mean operative time was 6 hours, median blood loss was 35┬áml (no intraoperative transfusions), median number of resected lymph nodes was 22, and median length of stay was 8 days. Conduit complications (anastomotic leak or conduit ischemia) occurred in 6 patients. The 30 and 90-day mortality were 3/85 (3.5%) and 9/85 (10.6%), respectively. Initial poor results led to protocol changes via root cause analysis: longer rehabilitation before surgery, liver biopsy in patients with history of suspected cirrhosis, and refinements to conduit preparation and anastomotic technique. Robotic Ivor Lewis esophagectomy for cancer provides an R0 resection with excellent lymph node resection. Our preferred port placement and operative techniques are described. Disappointingly high thoracic conduit problems and 30 and 90-day mortality led to lessons learned and implementation of change which are shared.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Cerfolio RJ; Wei B; Hawn MT; Minnich DJ
  • Start Page

  • 160
  • End Page

  • 169
  • Volume

  • 28
  • Issue

  • 1