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Laparoscopic-assisted left thoracoabdominal esophagectomy (LLTA): an innovative approach for locally advanced tumors of the gastroesophageal junction

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Original languageEnglish
Article numberdoaa014
JournalDiseases of the esophagus : official journal of the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus
Issue number11
Published18 Nov 2020

King's Authors


PURPOSE: To report a novel approach for locally advanced tumors located at the gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) using a laparoscopic abdominal phase and open left thoracotomy with the patient in a single right lateral decubitus position. BACKGROUND: The standard open left thoracoabdominal approach offers excellent exposure and access to the GEJ and lower esophagus. It also involves a single position for the procedure, shortening the operation time. The disadvantages are a large incision, division of the costochondral junction, and a low-level thoracotomy. The laparoscopic-assisted left thoracoabdominal esophagectomy (LLTA) is performed with the patient in the same right lateral decubitus position, but initially rolled away from the operator at 45° allowing laparoscopic gastric mobilization and lymphadenectomy. The patient is then tilted back to the lateral position for the thoracic phase. An anterolateral left thoracotomy is performed through the higher fifth intercostal space allowing a high intrathoracic anastomosis, just below the aortic arch. No disruption of the costochondral junction is made. METHODS: Consecutive patients selectively treated for locally advanced GEJ tumors with an LLTA approach between 2013 and 2019 were analyzed and compared to national standards (NOGCA). RESULTS: This series of 74 consecutive patients had a mean age of 63 years. The median operation time was 235 minutes. The median inpatient stay was 10 days (NOGCA 9 [11-17]). The tumors were predominantly adenocarcinoma (95%) and located at the GEJ (92%). The majority were locally advanced T3 or T4 tumors. Postoperative morbidity was low, Clavien-Dindo (C-D) 0 in 52.7% patients, C-D1 (1.4%), C-D2 (31.1%), C-D3a (5.4%), C-D4a (9.5%), and C-D5 (1.4%). The median number of total lymph nodes (LN) excised was 28 (NOGCA >15); LN % yield ≥18 was 90% (NOGCA 82.5%). Positive nodes were located at the lesser-curve (40%), paraesophageal (32.4%), and subcarinal regions (2.7%). Positive circumferential resection margins (<1 mm) were present in 28.4% of resected specimens (NOGCA 25.1%). This is reflective of the high proportion T3/T4 tumors selected for this approach. Hospital and 30-day mortality was 1.4% (NOGCA 2.7%). Recurrence after LLTA was 25.7% (local 5.4%, systemic 17.6%, mixed 2.7%) at a median of 311 days (62-1,158). CONCLUSION: This series demonstrates a novel, safe, and reproducible approach for locally advanced cancer of the GEJ. It offers a better exposure of the hiatus than the right-sided approach and avoids division of the costochondral junction and low thoracotomy seen with the open left thoracoabdominal approach.

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