Uniportal video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery in esophageal diseases: an introduction
Esophagectomy followed by reconstruction is one of the most complex interventions in surgery of the alimentary tract. Over several decennia dedicated surgeons have realized a constant decrease in 30-day mortality being now well below 5% in expert hands. However quality of life after such intervention is often jeopardized by the high incidence of complications in particular pulmonary infections. The introduction and presently widespread use of total minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) has re resulted in a substantial decrease of these pulmonary complications along with a decrease of the need for ICU admission and a decrease of length of hospital stay. But still a non-negligible share of patients may suffer from, sometimes severe, posthoracotomy pain. A problem that is thought to be the result of the manipulation of instruments at the port sites causing damage to the intercostal nerves. The growing popularity of uniportal video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) in particular in lung surgery claims to diminish this problem. Currently there is little experience in the use of uniportal VATS for esophagectomy which seems to be in part related to its higher degree of technical complexity. As a result there are no published data on the results but there are a few dedicated centers that are building up their experience. Their preliminary results seem to hold promising perspectives in relation to overcome the pain problem using a single small port site. Future will tell what the place will be of uniportal VATS versus other techniques e.g., robotic esophagectomy, endoscopic interventions on the esophagus and new emerging avenues in molecular biology.