Purpose: This study aimed to compare short-term outcomes of minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) with those of open esophagectomy (OE) for thoracic esophageal cancer using a nationwide Japanese database. Methods: Overall, 9584 patients with thoracic esophageal cancer who underwent esophagectomy at 864 hospitals in 2011–2012 were evaluated. We performed one-to-one matching between the MIE and OE groups on the basis of estimated propensity scores for each patient. Results: After propensity score matching, operative time was significantly longer in the MIE group (n = 3515) than in the OE group (n = 3515) [526 ± 149 vs. 461 ± 156 min, p < 0.001], whereas blood loss was markedly less in the MIE group than in the OE group (442 ± 612l vs. 608 ± 591 ml, p < 0.001). The populations of patients who required more than 48 h of postoperative respiratory ventilation was significantly less in the MIE group than in the OE group (8.9 vs. 10.9%, p = 0.006); however, reoperation rate within 30 days was significantly higher in the MIE group than in the OE group (7.0 vs. 5.3%, p = 0.004). There were no significant differences between the MIE and OE groups in 30-day mortality rates (0.9 vs. 1.1%) and operative mortality rates (2.5 vs. 2.8%, respectively). Conclusions: MIE was comparable with conventional OE in terms of short-term outcome after esophagectomy. It was particularly beneficial in reducing postoperative respiratory complications, but may be associated with higher reoperation rates.
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