Esophagectomy for esophageal cancer is one of the most invasive procedures in gastrointestinal surgery. An invasive surgical procedure causes postoperative lung injury through the surgical procedure and one-lung ventilation during anesthesia. Lung injury developed by inflammatory response to surgical insults and oxidative stress is associated with pulmonary morbidity after esophagectomy. Postoperative pulmonary complications negatively affect the long-term outcomes; therefore, an effort to reduce lung injury improves overall survival after esophagectomy. Although significant evidence has not been established, various pharmacological treatments for reducing lung injury, such as administration of a corticosteroid, neutrophil elastase inhibitor, and vitamins are considered to have efficacy for pulmonary morbidity. In this review we survey the following topics: mediators during the perioperative periods of esophagectomy and the efficacy of pharmacological therapies for patients with esophagectomy on pulmonary complications.
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