Background: Anastomotic leakage of cervical esophagogastrostomy following radical esophagectomy for esophageal cancer has reduced over time; however, postoperative anastomotic stricture still occurs at a considerably high rate. We developed a novel method of circular-stapled esophagogastrostomy by employing the keyhole procedure, which uses a linear stapler to enlarge the anastomotic opening made with a circular stapler (CS). Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 70 patients with esophageal cancer who underwent transthoracic esophagectomy and reconstruction via cervical CS-mediated anastomosis with or without the keyhole procedure between 2018 and 2020. The primary outcome was postoperative anastomotic stricture incidence within 180 days after surgery. Results: Among 70 patients, 22 underwent the keyhole procedure (CS + K group) and the remaining did not (CS group). No differences were observed in patients’ age, sex, body mass index, performance status, American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status, Charlson’s comorbidity index, tumor histological type, tumor location, clinical stage, or preoperative treatment. A smaller stapler was used in the CS + K group (p < 0.001). Incidence of anastomotic stricture was significantly different (CS vs. CS + K, 18.8 vs. 0%, p = 0.049), especially when a 21 or 23 mm CS was used (CS vs. CS + K, 50.0 vs. 0%, p = 0.005). Univariate analysis confirmed that CS ≤ 23 without keyhole was a significant risk factor (p = 0.001). Conclusions: The keyhole procedure could be a simple and useful alternative technique that reduces the risk of stricture formation in cervical esophagogastric anastomosis, especially when using the smaller-sized CS.
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