Analysis of Esophagectomy Margin Practice and Survival Implications

Sahar A. Saddoughi, Kyle G. Mitchell, Mara B. Antonoff, Kristin M. Fruth, Jim Taswell, Taofic Mounajjed, W. Wayne L. Hofstetter, David C. Rice, K. Robert Shen, Shanda H. Blackmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The objective of this study was to determine how thoracic surgeons manage intraoperative esophagectomy positive margins and how these decisions may relate to overall survival and progression-free survival in esophageal cancer. Methods: A survey was sent to thoracic surgeons to understand the management of intraoperative positive esophagectomy margins. Primary data at two high-volume esophageal cancer institutions from 1994 to 2017 were retrospectively reviewed to identify patients who had intraoperative positive frozen section margins during esophagectomy. Patient characteristics and survival data were collected and analyzed. Overall survival and progression-free survival were assessed using a Cox model. Results: Eighty-five percent of thoracic surgeons responding to a survey reported the utilization of frozen pathologic evaluation during esophagectomy with attempts at re-resection to achieve negative margin. Our esophagectomy database identified 94 patients with intraoperative positive margins. Of those re-resected (n = 67, 63%), 44 patients (46.8%) were converted to R0 resections. overall survival was improved for patients in the R0 group (13 months) vs R+ group (3.4 months, P = .04). Progression-free survival was also improved between the R0 group (8.6 months) and the R+ group (2.2 months, P = .03). In a multivariable analysis for progression-free survival, margin status was an independent predictor of survival (hazard ratio 3.13, P = .03). Conclusions: From a thoracic surgery survey, 85% of surgeons use intraoperative frozen section margin analysis to guide surgical decision making during an esophagectomy. Analyzing patients with a positive margin discovered during esophagectomy suggests that esophageal cancer patients who can undergo re-resection to a negative margin have increased progression-free survival. The final margin appears to be related to progression-free survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-216
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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