Background: Radical esophagectomy for esophageal cancer is associated with high morbidity, especially with pulmonary complications. Mediastinoscopic esophagectomy via a small left neck incision combined with the esophageal hiatus, without using transthoracic approach, has been reported to reduce pulmonary complication; however, from technical point of view, this approach using non-articulating, straight, long forceps is extremely challenging, especially in the middle mediastinal area. Its technical difficulties may be attenuated using da Vinci Surgical System. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and safety of robot-assisted mediastinoscopic esophagectomy. Methods: Robot-assisted mediastinoscopic esophagectomy was performed in six patients between October 2016 and May 2017. Robotic esophageal mobilization with upper and middle mediastinal lymphadenectomy was performed via the three da Vinci Xi (Intuitive Surgical, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA) trocars placed on the 5-cm left cervical incision. Thereafter, the remaining part of radical esophagectomy was completed via a transhiatal approach. Results: Upper and middle mediastinal lymphadenectomy was robotically completed via the transcervical approach in all cases without conversion to transthoracic approach. No postoperative complications (Clavien–Dindo classification grade ≥ III) were observed. Conclusions: Robot-assisted mediastinoscopic esophagectomy was technically feasible and safe. Use of da Vinci Surgical System may help attenuate technical difficulties in transcervical middle mediastinal lymph node dissection.
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