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Less-Invasive Surgery for Esophageal Cancer Might Be Safer
Date:4/30/2012

MONDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- Besides being easier on the patient, minimally invasive surgery to remove the esophagus of patients with esophageal cancer can also greatly reduce the risk of lung infection compared to traditional open surgery, a new study finds.

Dutch researchers also found that patients who undergo this less-invasive procedure have much shorter hospital stays and a better short-term quality of life than those who have open surgery, which requires cutting through a patient's chest.

One U.S. expert was impressed with the findings. The study "goes a long way to encouraging esophageal surgeons to seriously consider minimally invasive surgery for their patients with surgically resectable [removable] esophageal cancers," said Dr. Jonathan Aviv, clinical director of the Voice and Swallowing Center at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

Removal of part of or the entire esophagus (a procedure called esophagectomy) is the mainstay of esophageal cancer treatment. This study compared open esophagectomy and minimally invasive esophagectomy.

The minimally invasive procedure was first used two decades ago but this is the first study to compare minimally invasive and open esophagectomy, according to Miguel Cuesta, of the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, and colleagues.

The researchers looked at the outcomes of 56 patients who had open surgery and 59 patients who had the minimally invasive procedure. In the two weeks after surgery, lung (or pulmonary) infections occurred in 29 percent of those who had open surgery but only 9 percent of those who had minimally invasive surgery.

Overall, 34 percent of the patients who had open surgery developed a lung infection, compared with 12 percent of those who underwent minimally invasive surgery, the study found.

The researchers also noted that patients who had minimally invasive surgery had less blood loss, far shorter hospital st
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