Transthoracic esophagectomy is a highly complex and sophisticated procedure with high morbidity rates and a significant mortality. Surgical access has consistently become less invasive, transitioning from open esophagectomy to hybrid esophagectomy (HE) then to totally minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE), and most recently to robot-assisted minimally invasive esophagectomy (RAMIE), with each step demonstrating improved patient outcomes. Aim of this study with more than 600 patients is to complete a propensity-score matched comparison of postoperative short-term outcomes after highly standardized RAMIE vs. HE in a European high volume center. Six hundred and eleven patients that underwent transthoracic Ivor-Lewis esophagectomy for esophageal cancer between May 2016 and May 2021 were included in the study. In January 2019, we implemented an updated robotic standardized anastomotic technique using a circular stapler and ICG (indocyanine green) for RAMIE cases.
Data were retrospectively analyzed from a prospectively maintained IRB-approved database. Outcomes of patients undergoing standardized RAMIE from January 2019 to May 2021 were compared to our overall cohort from May 2016-April 2021 (HE) after a propensity-score matching analysis was performed. Our analysis confirms the safety and feasibility of RAMIE and HE in a large cohort after propensity score matching. A regular postoperative course (Clavien-Dindo 0) and a shorter ICU stay were seen significantly more often after RAMIE compared to HE.