Purpose: We investigated the operative outcomes of thoracoscopic esophagectomy (TE) in the prone position, using the concept of total meso-esophageal excision for esophageal cancer. Methods: The medical records of 140 consecutive patients with esophageal cancer who underwent radical esophagectomy by TE were reviewed retrospectively, and operative outcomes were compared between patients treated before (non-meso-esophagus; non-ME group) and after (ME group) the introduction of total meso-esophageal excision (ME). Results: There were no significant differences between the groups in postoperative morbidity (non-ME group vs. ME group, 28.3% vs. 41.4%, p = 0.119), 30-day mortality (non-ME group vs. ME group, 0% vs. 1.1%; p = 0.433), and in-hospital mortality (non-ME group vs. ME group, 1.9% vs. 0%, p = 0.199). Although overall survival and relapse-free survival did not differ significantly between the groups, the overall recurrence rate was significantly lower in the ME group than the non-ME group (non-ME group vs. ME group, 43.4% vs. 23%, p = 0.011). In particular, the rate of regional lymph node recurrence in the mediastinum was lower in the ME group (non-ME group vs. ME group, 11.3% vs. 2.3%; p = 0.026). Conclusions: Our results suggest that the ME procedure might be one of the procedures that reduce regional lymph node recurrence in the mediastinum without any deterioration in short-term outcomes.
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