Left Thoracoabdominal Approach for Carcinoma of the Lower Esophagus and Gastric Cardia

Shoji Natsugoe, Masamichi Baba, Takashi Aikou


Tumors located aborally to the carina, i.e., Barrett's carcinoma or carcinoma of the esophagogastric junction, may be removed by a left-sided thoracotomy instead of the more usual right-sided access combined with an abdominal approach. The extent of lymphadenectomy is limited to the middle and lower mediastinum.

Indications and Contraindications

Indications ■ Tumors of the infracarinal esophagus

■ Tumors of the esophagogastric junction

Contraindications ■ See chapter on "Subtotal Esophagectomy: Transhiatal Approach"

■ High risk patients

Preoperative Investigation/Preparation for the Procedure

■ See chapter on "Subtotal Esophagectomy: Transhiatal Approach"

Procedure Access

■ Spiral positioning of the patient with 45° elevation of the left thorax

■ Rotating the operating table for the thoracic part/abdominal part

STEP 1 Thoracotomy

The skin incision is made obliquely from the epigastrium toward the sixth or seventh intercostal space, and a good exposure of the mediastinum or abdomen can be achieved by rotating the operating table. After 1 cm of costal cartilage is resected, the left side of the chest is opened. Distant and peritoneal metastases should be excluded prior to thoracotomy.

Splenic Flexure Syndrome


Diaphragmatomy and mobilization of the colon

Para-aortic lymphadenectomy is performed by delivering the splenic flexure into the chest through an incision in the peripheral diaphragm. The descending colon is then mobilized down the left paracolic gutter to the base of the sigmoid colon mesentery. After mobilization of the left kidney from the retroperitoneum as well as pancreas and spleen, the left renal vein is identified.

Open Paraaortic Lymphadenectomy

STEP 3 Para-aortic lymph node removal

The para-aortic lymph nodes in the left lateral region are then dissected, and the right lateral para-aortic lymph nodes are removed after performing a Kocher maneuver.

Kocher Maneuver


Lymph node removal of the upper abdomen

Lymph nodes of the hepatoduodenal ligament and around the common hepatic artery, left gastric artery and celiac trunk are dissected.

Mobilization of the stomach and transection of the duodenum (see chapter "Total Gastrectomy with Conventional Lymphadenectomy")

Hepatoduodenal Ligament

STEP 5 Lower mediastinal lymph node removal

Regarding the left intrathoracic approach, the left pulmonary ligament is divided and the mediastinal pleura is opened. The pleura covering the lower thoracic esophagus is incised, allowing the clearance of loose connective tissue together with the lower thoracic paraesophageal, supradiaphragmatic, posterior mediastinal and intradiaphrag-matic lymph nodes.

Pericardial Lymph Node Location

STEP 6 Reconstruction

There are several methods of reconstruction according to the tumor location and extension. Roux-Y reconstruction by using an EEA instrument, as shown here, is an option for performing the esophago-jejunostomy.

See chapter on "Subtotal Esophagectomy: Transhiatal Approach"for standard postoperative investigations and complications.

Roux Esophago Jejunostomy

Tricks of the Senior Surgeon

■ Kinking of the graft: this is a rare but dangerous complication, due to clinical symptomatic disturbance of the gastrointestinal passage by elongation, which requires surgical intervention and is performed by shortening of the graft.

■ If the trachea is injured, use direct suture and pericardial flap.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
How to Stay Young

How to Stay Young

For centuries, ever since the legendary Ponce de Leon went searching for the elusive Fountain of Youth, people have been looking for ways to slow down the aging process. Medical science has made great strides in keeping people alive longer by preventing and curing disease, and helping people to live healthier lives. Average life expectancy keeps increasing, and most of us can look forward to the chance to live much longer lives than our ancestors.

Get My Free Ebook


  • ivana
    How close is the lower bowel to the paraaortic lymph?
    9 years ago

Post a comment