Background: Studies have shown that epidural analgesia (EDA) is associated with a decreased risk of pneumonia and anastomotic leakage after esophagectomy, and several guidelines strongly recommend EDA use after esophagectomy. However, the benefit of EDA use in minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) remains unclear. Objective: The aim of this retrospective study was to compare the short-term outcomes between patients with and without EDA undergoing MIE for esophageal cancer. Methods: Data of patients who underwent oncologic MIE (April 2014–March 2019) were extracted from a Japanese nationwide inpatient database. Stabilized inverse probability of treatment weighting (IPTW), propensity score matching, and instrumental variable analyses were performed to investigate the associations between EDA use and short-term outcomes, adjusting for potential confounders. Results: Among 12,688 eligible patients, EDA was used in 9954 (78.5%) patients. In-hospital mortality, respiratory complications, and anastomotic leakage occurred in 230 (1.8%), 2139 (16.9%), and 1557 (12.3%) patients, respectively. In stabilized IPTW, EDA use was significantly associated with decreased in-hospital mortality (odds ratio [OR] 0.46 [95% confidence interval 0.34–0.61]), respiratory complications (OR 0.74 [0.66–0.84]), and anastomotic leakage (OR 0.77 [0.67–0.88]). EDA use was also associated with decreased prolonged mechanical ventilation, unplanned intubation, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use, acetaminophen use, postoperative length of stay, and total hospitalization costs and increased vasopressor use. One-to-three propensity score matching and instrumental variable analyses demonstrated equivalent results. Conclusions: EDA use in oncologic MIE was associated with low in-hospital mortality as well as decreased respiratory complications, and anastomotic leakage, suggesting the potential advantage of EDA use in MIE.
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