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Patients with disease, cancer of the esophagus benefit from new technique developed by OHSU surgeons

PORTLAND, Ore. - Surgeons at the Oregon Health & Science University Digestive Health Center have developed a new technique that makes feasible and safe a potentially lifesaving and noninvasive surgical procedure known as laparoscopic esophagectomy. Until now, the procedure was considered too technically demanding for most surgeons to perform. A paper on their findings recently was presented at the European Association of Endoscopic Surgery in Venice, Italy.

For more than a decade, the original procedure has been used in a few specialized centers around the world to remove cancer as well as other diseased tissue of the esophagus laparoscopically, that is by inserting fiber-optic instruments into a small, quarter-sized incision in the abdomen and maneuvering them to the affected portion of the esophagus while observing with a camera.

When first introduced, the less invasive laparoscopic esophagectomy was embraced by surgeons eager to forgo traditional open surgery, which requires cutting through the patient's chest. But it proved so difficult and time-consuming that most surgeons abandoned it, according to John G. Hunter, M.D., co-director of the OHSU Digestive Health Center, chairman of surgery in the OHSU School of Medicine, and co-author of the paper.

Hunter, a pioneer in minimally invasive surgery, however, did not abandon it. He knew from experience that laparoscopic surgery is inherently better for patients. "They recover faster with less pain, fewer complications and smaller scars," he explained.

He and colleagues worked in earnest to develop a means by which they could more easily and safely perform laparoscopic esophagectomies. The fruit of that labor is the laparoscopic inversion esophagectomy, or LIE. The LIE eliminates some of the technical obstacles that plagued the original procedure, the researchers report.

"With the original laparoscopic esophagectomy, the entire esophagus is in the way as you try to take it out
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Contact: Tamara Hargens
hargenst@ohsu.edu
503 494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
9-Jun-2005


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