The first series of completely robotic esophagectomies with three-field lymphadenectomy: Initial experience

K. H. Kernstine, D. T. Dearmond, D. M. Shamoun, J. H. Campos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Background: This study investigated the use of robotics to perform extended esophageal resection in a series of patients. Methods: A total of 14 patients with a median age of 64 years underwent esophagectomy using the da Vinci robot. At presentation, there were 12 cases of cancer, staged at T2N1 (n = 2), T3N0 (n = 2), T3N1 (n = 6), T4N1 (n = 1), and M1a (n = 1); 2 cases of high-grade dysplasia; 8 cases of adenocarcinoma; and 4 cases of squamous cell cancer; as well as 2 middle third, 9 lower third, and one gastroesophageal junction tumor. Nine patients had undergone preoperative chemoradiotherapy, and six had undergone prior abdominal surgery. The patients were categorized into three chronological groups according to the procedure performed. Group 1 consisted of the first three patients in the series, whose surgery was thoracic only (robotically assisted esophagectomy). Group 2, the next three patients, had robotically assisted thoracic esophagectomy plus thoracic duct ligation using a laparoscopic gastric conduit. Group 3, the last eight patients, underwent completely robotic esophagectomy. Results: For Group 3, the total operating room time was 11.1 ± 0.8 h (range, 11.3-13.2 h), with a console time of 5.0 ± 0.5 h (range, 4.8-5.8 h). The estimated blood loss was 400 ± 300 ml (range, 200-950 ml). One patient in group 1 had a thoracic duct leak. In groups 2 and 3, thoracic duct ligation resulted in no further leaks. Other postoperative complications included severe pneumonia (1 case), atrial fibrillation (5 cases), cervical anastomotic leak (2 cases), wound infection (1 case), and bilateral vocal cord paresis requiring tracheostomy (1 case). In seven of the cases, no intensive care unit time was required. There was one death from pneumonia 72 days after the procedure. The rate of disease-free survival was 87%. Conclusion: The robotic approach facilitates an extended three-field esophagolymphadenectomy even after induction therapy and abdominal surgery. Larger scale trials are needed to define the role of this technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2285-2292
Number of pages8
JournalSurgical Endoscopy and Other Interventional Techniques
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Esophageal cancer
  • Esophagectomy
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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