Comparison of the short-term outcomes of robot-assisted minimally invasive, video-assisted minimally invasive, and open esophagectomy

Lei Gong, Hongjing Jiang, Jie Yue, Xiaofeng Duan, Peng Tang, Peng Ren, Xijiang Zhao, Xiangming Liu, Xi Zhang, Zhentao Yu


Background: The development of minimally invasive surgery has initiated many changes in the surgical treatment of esophageal cancer (EC) patients. The aim of this study was to compare the short-term outcomes of robotic-assisted minimally invasive esophagectomy (RAMIE), video-assisted minimally invasive esophagectomy (VAMIE), and open esophagectomy (OE).
Methods: Our study included patients who had undergone McKeown esophagectomy at Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital between January 2016 and December 2018. We analyzed clinical baseline data, as well as perioperative and pathological outcomes.
Results: A total of 312 cases met the inclusion criteria (OE: 77, VAMIE: 144, RAMIE: 91). The OE group had a greater number of late-stage patients as well as those who received the neo-adjuvant therapy, compared with the other two groups (P=0.001). The procedure time in the OE group was also shorter by approximately 20 minutes (P=0.021). Total blood loss was significantly lower in the two MIE groups (P=0.004) than in the OE group. There were no differences in the total number of dissected lymph nodes between the three groups (OE: 24.09±10.77, VAMIE: 23.07±10.18, RAMIE: 22.84±8.37, P=0.680). Both the lymph node number (P=0.155) and achievement rate (P=0.190) in the right recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) area were comparable between the three groups. However, in the left RLN area, minimally invasive approaches resulted in a higher number of harvested lymph nodes (P=0.032) and greater achievement rate (P=0.018). Neither MIE procedure increased the incidence of postoperative complications.
Conclusions: Minimally invasive surgery could guarantee the quality of bilateral RLN lymphadenectomy without increasing postoperative complications, especially in RAMIE patients. The rational choice of different surgical approaches would improve both safety and oncological outcomes for patients.