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Minimally invasive surgical technique has become standard at many institutions in esophageal cancer surgery. In some situations, however other surgical approaches are required. Left thoracoabdominal esophagectomy (LTE) facilitates complete resection of esophageal cancer particularly for bulky distal esophageal tumors, but there are concerns that this approach is associated with significant morbidity. Prospectively entered esophagectomy databases from three high-volume centers were reviewed for patients undergoing LTE or MIE 2009-2019. Patient demographics, tumor characteristics, operative outcomes, postoperative outcomes, and pathologic surrogates of oncologic efficacy (R0 resection rate, and number of resected lymph nodes) were compared. In total 915 patients were included in the study, LTE was applied in 684 (74.8%) patients, and MIE in 231 (25.2%) patients. LTE patients had more locally advanced tumor stage and received more neoadjuvant treatment. Patients treated with MIE had more comorbidities. The results showed no difference in overall postoperative complications (LTE = 61.7%, MIE = 65.7%, P = 0.289), severe complications (Clavien-Dindo ≥IIIa (LTE = 25.9%, MIE 26.8%, P = 0.806)), pneumonia (LTE = 29.0%, MIE = 24.7%, P = 0.211), anastomotic leak (LTE = 7.8%, MIE = 11.3%, P = 0.101), or in-hospital mortality (LTE = 2.6%, MIE = 3.5%, P = 0.511). Median number of resected lymph nodes was 24 for LTE and 25 for MIE (P = 0.491). LTE was used for more advanced tumors in patients that were more likely to have received neoadjuvant treatment compared with MIE, however postoperative morbidity, mortality, and oncologic outcomes were equivalent to that of MIE in this cohort. In conclusion open resection with left thoracoabdominal approach is a valid option in selected patients when performed at high-volume esophagectomy centers.

Original publication




Journal article


Dis Esophagus

Publication Date



esophagectomy, left thoracoabdominal esophagectomy, minimally invasive surgery, postoperative complications