Outcomes of robotic esophagectomy

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Esophagectomy has long been considered the standard of care for early-stage (≤ T2N0) esophageal cancer. Minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE), using a combined laparoscopic and thoracoscopic approach, was first performed in the 1990s and showed significant improvements over open approaches. Refinement of MIE arrived in the form of robotic-assisted minimally invasive esophagectomy (RAMIE) in 2004. MIE is a challenging procedure for which consensus on optimal technique is still elusive. Although nonrobotic MIE confers significant advantages over open approaches, MIE remains associated with stubbornly high rates of complications, including pneumonia, aspiration, arrhythmia, anastomotic leakage, surgical site infection, and vocal cord palsy. RAMIE was envisioned to improve operative-associated morbidity while achieving equivalent or superior oncologic outcomes to nonrobotic MIE. However, owing to RAMIE's significant upfront costs, steep learning curve, and other requirements, adoption remains less than widespread and convincing evidence supporting its use from well-designed studies is lacking. In this review, we compare operative, oncologic, and quality-of-life outcomes between open esophagectomy, nonrobotic MIE, and RAMIE. Although RAMIE remains a relatively new and underexplored modality, several studies in the literature show that it is feasible and results in similar outcomes to other MIE approaches. Moreover, RAMIE has been associated with favorable patient satisfaction and quality of life.


This article was published in Journal of Thoracic Disease, Volume 13, Issue 10, pages 6163-6168.

The published version is available at https://doi.org/10.21037/jtd-2019-rts-07.

Copyright © 2021 Journal of Thoracic Disease.

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Journal of Thoracic Disease

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