DOI: 10.1093/dote/doad052.082 ISSN:


Yasuyuki Seto, Koichi Yagi, Sho Yajima, Yasuhiro Okumura, Yoshiyuki Miwa, Susumu Aikou, Yukinori Yamagata, Takashi Mitsui, Masato Nishida, Shuntaro Yoshimura, Kazuhiko Mori
  • Gastroenterology
  • General Medicine



Esophagectomy is still main treatment mode for esophageal cancer, though it is known to be associated with severe surgical invasiveness resulting in high morbidity and mortality. Minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE), which consisted of thoracoscopic and/or laparoscopic procedure, has been widely performed to diminish those disadvantages of open procedure. Recent reports, however, show insufficient effects of the conventional MIE. Therefore, additional improvements are needed to overcome those problems.


We developed the robot-assisted transmediastinal esophagectomy (RATME) in 2012 to prevent the postoperative complications. It is the combination of transcervical and transhiatal approach without one lung ventilation anesthesia and body change during surgery. Upper mediastinal lymphadenectomy along left recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) is perfomed by transcervical mediastinoscopic procedure under pneumo-mediastinum. Laparoscopic abdominal LN dissection is performed in parallel with the cervical procedure. Remnant lower and middle LN dissections, including subcarinal and main bronchus, are done using robotic procedure in which robotic arms are inserted through hiatus from abdomen. Finally, bilateral pleura can be preserved.


To date, 275 RATMEs have been performed. Among them, post-operative pneumonia occurred in 33 cases (12%), and mortality is zero. Oncological outcomes, e.g., the numbers of harvested LNs, post-operative QOL, e.g., post-operative pulmonary function, were observed and reported to be better in RATME group as compared to open esophagectomy group. Survival after surgery is, also, not at all inferior.


RATME is a promising minimally invasive technique, overcoming the disadvantages of conventional procedures. For the patients with previous thoracic surgery, and/or impaired respiratory function who are unable to undergo transthoracic esophagectomy, RATME can offer a valuable alternative surgery as a radical treatment.

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