Impact of stepwise introduction of esophagojejunostomy during laparoscopic total gastrectomy: a single-center experience in Japan
Background The number of laparoscopic gastrectomies performed in Japan is increasing with the development of laparoscopic and surgical instruments. However, laparoscopic total gastrectomy is developing relatively slowly because of technical difficulties, particularly in esophagojejunostomy.
Methods We retrospectively reviewed 83 patients with early gastric cancer in the upper portion of the stomach who underwent laparoscopic total gastrectomy between April 2007 and March 2016. We classified the patients into three periods, mainly on the basis of the esophagojejunostomy procedures performed: first period, various conventional procedures based on the physicians' choice (n=14); second period, transoral method (n=51); and third period, fully intracorporeal technique (n=18). We evaluated the clinical impact of a stepwise introduction of unfamiliar new methods during laparoscopic total gastrectomy.
Results Between the first and second periods, there were significant differences in the blood loss volume, number of harvested lymph nodes, frequency of conversion to open surgery, and postoperative hospital stay. The number of harvested lymph nodes was significantly higher in the third than in the second period, with no detriment to other intraoperative or postoperative factors.
Conclusion The use of a unified surgical method for esophagojejunostomy seems to be the key to a successful and advantageous laparoscopic total gastrectomy. Stepwise introduction of a well-established technique of esophagojejunostomy during laparoscopic total gastrectomy will benefit patients, as shown, for example, by the higher number of dissected lymph nodes in the present study. However, a protracted learning curve is required.
Keywords Esophagojejunostomy, gastric cancer, laparoscopic total gastrectomy
Ann Gastroenterol 2017; 30 (5): 564-570