Extended esophagectomy in the management of carcinoma of the upper thoracic esophagus

W. T. Vigneswaran, V. F. Trastek, P. C. Pairolero, C. Deschamps, R. C. Daly, M. S. Allen, S. C. Fell, J. I. Miller, M. B. Orringer

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40 Scopus citations


Upper thoracic esophageal tumors adjacent to the trachea often require a preliminary thoracotomy to accomplish resection. Between January 1985 and July 1992, 49 consecutive patients (38 men and 11 women) underwent extended esophagectomy for esophageal cancer where the neoplasm was mobilized through an initial right thoracotomy and then resected and reconstructed through an abdominocervical approach. Ages ranged from 40 to 80 years (median 63.4 years). The tumor was located in the upper third of the thoracic esophagus in 44 patients and in the middle third in five. Thirty-three patients had squamous cell carcinoma, 14 had adenocarcinoma, and two had adenosquamous cell carcinoma. Complications occurred in 35 patients (71.4%) and included anastomotic leak in 15, vocal cord paralysis in 11, atrial arrhythmia in nine, pneumonia in six, wound infection in five, and postoperative bleeding in one. Three patients required tracheostomy. There was one postoperative death (2.0%). Median survival was 0.9 years (range 1 month to 5.1 years). Thirty-one patients were alive at the time this article was written, 28 without evidence of cancer. Cause of death was recurrent disease in 13 patients, unrelated to cancer in three, and unknown in one. Overall actuarial 3- and 5-year survivals were 48.6% and 18.2%, respectively. Four-year survival for stage II disease was 44.6% as compared to 24.9% for stage III (p < 0.02). The presence of lymph node metastases significantly affected survival. Three-year survival for patients with N0 disease was 77.9% compared with 20.9% for patients with N1 disease (p < 0.01). Age, sex, and cell type had no effect on survival. Ten patients had late dysphagia, four had gastroesophageal reflux, and one had dumping symptoms. Although associated with significant morbidity, we conclude that extended esophagectomy is an acceptable method of management for tumors of the upper thoracic esophagus. Mortality is low, and long-term results are reasonable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-907
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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