Transhiatal esophagectomy
Anesthesia type General
Airway 8-O ETT
Lines and access Large bore PIV

Arterial Line

Monitors Standard Arterial Line
Primary anesthetic considerations
Postoperative Anastamotic leak

An esophagectomy remains a formidable surgery with high morbidity and mortality[1]. It is performed for esophageal cancer and non-malignant conditions including hiatal hernias, severe GERD refractory to medical management, esophageal strictures and diverticula, and dysmotility disorders such as achalasia[1]. Anesthetic management may contribute to the improvement of perioperative outcomes; such factors include prevention of tracheal aspiration, lung protective ventilatory strategies, thoracic epidural analgesia, judicious fluid management to optimize tissue oxygen delivery, and attention to issues that may reduce anastomotic complications[2].

Esophageal cancer incidence has been increasing and is now the eighth most common malignancy worldwide. Despite overall poor prognosis with this malignancy, surgery plays a significant role to increase long-term survival and possible cure. The transhiatal approach is used with a laparotomy below the xiphisternum to mobilize the stomach and create an esophageal conduit from the greater curvature of the stomach. This conduit is brought up to the neck for a gastroesophageal anastamosis at the level of a neck incision[3]. While an open approach was used traditionally, surgeons changed to favor the transthoracic approach originally described by Ivor Lewis. With advances in laparoscopic and robotic surgical techniques, the transhiatal esophagestomy has been increasing in popularity once again. Thoracoscopic and robotic approaches have reduced the pulmonary complications and hastened the recovery period. Minimally invasive approaches allow for direct visualization within the thoracic cavity to reduce chances of injury during dissection.[3]

Preoperative management

Patient evaluation

System Considerations

Labs and studies

Operating room setup

  • 8-O ETT for periemergence bronchoscopy
  • Arterial line
  • Large bore peripheral IV
  • NG tube to decompress stomach

Patient preparation and premedication

  • EKG leads on back of shoulders to facilitate neck prep

Regional and neuraxial techniques

  • Epidural for post-operative pain control

Intraoperative management

Monitoring and access

  • Standard ASA Monitors
  • Arterial line

Induction and airway management


  • Supine with both arms tucked

Maintenance and surgical considerations

Abdominal laparoscopy:
Gastric conduit creation:
Esophageal transection:
Gastric pull-through:
  • Watch peak and plateau pressures for signs of pneumothorax
  • Compression of RA may cause sudden hypotension
  • Avoid excessive vasopressors to uphold integrity of anastamosis site


Postoperative management


Pain management

Potential complications

  • Vocal cord palsy
  • Anastamotic leak
  • General pulmonary failure/complications

Procedure variants

  • Very few series have been published comparing robotic and laparoscopic approach.
Laparoscopic Robotic
Unique considerations
Position Supine Supine; arms tucked
Surgical time 279min[4] 267-311min
EBL 88mL[4] 54-100mL
Postoperative disposition
Pain management Epidural
Potential complications Pulmonary

Anastamotic leak (9-33%)

Vocal cord palsy (5-30%)

Length of Stay 9.2 days[4] 9-10 days


  1. Ng, Ju-Mei (2008-06). "Perioperative Anesthetic Management for Esophagectomy". Anesthesiology Clinics. 26 (2): 293–304. doi:10.1016/j.anclin.2008.01.004. ISSN 1932-2275. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. Jaeger, J. Michael; Collins, Stephen R.; Blank, Randal S. (2012-12). "Anesthetic management for esophageal resection". Anesthesiology Clinics. 30 (4): 731–747. doi:10.1016/j.anclin.2012.08.005. ISSN 1932-2275. PMID 23089506. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nottingham, James M.; McKeown, David G. (2021), "Transhiatal Esophagectomy", StatPearls, Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, PMID 32644622, retrieved 2021-06-17
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Seto, Yasuyuki; Mori, Kazuhiko; Aikou, Susumu (2017-09). "Robotic surgery for esophageal cancer: Merits and demerits". Annals of Gastroenterological Surgery. 1 (3): 193–198. doi:10.1002/ags3.12028. ISSN 2475-0328. PMC 5881348. PMID 29863149. Check date values in: |date= (help)