Insights in work rehabilitation after minimally invasive esophagectomy

Melissa Geeraerts*, Luis Carlos Silva Corten, Marc van Det, Misha Luyer, Grard Nieuwenhuijzen, Marloes Vermeer, Jelle Ruurda, Richard van Hillegersberg, Ewout Kouwenhoven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Little is known about work rehabilitation after totally minimally invasive esophagectomy. The goal of this study was to further objectify the postoperative work rehabilitation. Not only duration of sick leave, but also the extent of return to work will be assessed. Methods: This retrospective multicenter study was conveyed between January 2009 and April 2014. Eighty-six preoperatively employed patients were included. Data regarding patients’ preoperative occupation, actual job status, and postoperative duration until return to work were retrieved. Potential prognostic factors for work rehabilitation were analyzed. Complaints that could impede rehabilitation were questioned (based on EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-OES18). Work activity, defined as either partially or fully resumed professional activity as compared to the preoperative status, was measured at 3, 6, 12, and 18 months postoperatively. Results: At 6-month follow-up, 40.2% of patients reached partial and 14.6% had full professional recovery and after 12 months 28.2% and 40.8%, respectively. After 18 months, a stagnation was seen (19.0% partial; 43.1% full recovery). Median follow-up was 18 months (IQR 12–18). Self-employment was a significant predictor for full professional recovery (p = 0.005, OR 2.45 95% CI 1.32–4.56). The median time to full professional recovery was shorter for this group. The most common complaint among all patients was fatigue. This complaint did not significantly differ between working (fully and partially) and non-working groups (p = 0.727). Conclusions: Only approximately 40% of patients reached full professional recovery 1 year after totally minimally invasive esophagectomy. Barely any progression toward return to work was seen after 1 year postoperatively. Roughly 30% of patients never returned to work. Self-employed workers had a higher percentage of restoration to full professional activity, as well as shorter duration to return. These findings highlight the importance of adequate counseling of patients in order to prepare them for the impact of this procedure on professional activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3457-3463
Number of pages7
JournalSurgical Endoscopy
Issue number10
Early online date29 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • Esophageal cancer
  • Minimally invasive esophagectomy
  • Work rehabilitation


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