Background Laparoscopy-assisted proximal gastrectomy (LAPG) remains a relatively uncommon procedure because of certain technical issues, such as curability, safety, and retention of postoperative patients' quality of life. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the feasibility of a newly developed LAPG procedure for early-stage proximal gastric cancer. Methods We enrolled 37 consecutive patients who were preoperatively diagnosed with cT1N0M0 primary gastric cancer in the upper third of the stomach with the primary tumor diameter less than 4 cm. Laparoscopy-assisted proximal gastrectomy with sentinel node (SN) mapping and esophagogastric anastomosis with a circular stapler and transoral placement of the anvil was attempted. Results The LAPG procedure was completed in 36 patients. It was converted to laparoscopy-assisted total gastrectomy in one patient because one SN detected intraoperatively was positive for metastasis by intraoperative pathological diagnosis. There were no severe postoperative complications in any patient. Only one patient (3%) complained of mild reflux symptoms immediately after operation, which were graded endoscopically as B by the Los Angeles Classification of gastroesophageal reflux disease; however, the symptoms were controlled well by a proton-pump inhibitor. Sentinel nodes were detected successfully in 37 (100%) of our patients. The mean number of dissected lymph nodes and identified SNs per case was 29.7 and 5.8, respectively. The sensitivity of prediction of nodal metastasis (including isolated tumor cells) and diagnostic accuracy based on SN status were 100% (3/3) and 100% (37/37), respectively. All patients have been free from recurrence for a median follow-up period of 26 months. Conclusions This study reveals that our novel LAPG approach is curative and represents a feasible minimally invasive surgical procedure with minimal morbidity and postoperative reflux esophagitis in patients with upper-third early-stage gastric cancer.
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