Robot-assisted minimally invasive thoracolaparoscopic esophagectomy versus open esophagectomy: long-term follow-up of a randomized clinical trial

Eline M de Groot, Sylvia van der Horst, B Feike Kingma, Lucas Goense, Pieter C van der Sluis, Jelle P Ruurda, Richard van Hillegersberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Initial results of the ROBOT, which randomized between robot-assisted minimally invasive esophagectomy (RAMIE) and open transthoracic esophagectomy (OTE), showed significantly better short-term postoperative outcomes in favor of RAMIE. However, it is not yet clarified if RAMIE is equivalent to OTE regarding long-term outcomes. The aim of this study was to report the long-term oncological results of the ROBOT trial in terms of survival and disease-free survival. This study is a follow-up study of the ROBOT trial, which was a randomized controlled trial comparing RAMIE to OTE in 112 patients with intrathoracic esophageal cancer. Both the trial protocol and short-term results were previously published. The primary outcome of the current study was 5-year overall survival. Secondary outcomes were disease-free survival and recurrence patterns. Analysis was by intention to treat. During the recruitment period, 109 patients were included in the survival analysis (RAMIE n = 54, OTE n = 55). Majority of patients had clinical stage III or IV (RAMIE 63%, OTE 55%) and received neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (80%). Median follow-up was 60 months (range 31-60). The combined 5-year overall survival rates for RAMIE and OTE were 41% (95% CI 27-55) and 40% (95% CI 26-53), respectively (log rank test P = 0.827). The 5-year disease-free survival rate was 42% (95% CI 28-55) in the RAMIE group and 43% (95% CI 29-57) in the OTE group (log rank test P = 0.749). Out of 104 patients, 57 (55%) developed recurrent disease detected at a median of 10 months (range 0-56) after surgery. No statistically difference in recurrence rate nor recurrence pattern was observed between both groups. Overall survival and disease-free survival of RAMIE are comparable to OTE. These results continue to support the use of robotic surgery for esophageal cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdoaa079
JournalDiseases of the esophagus : official journal of the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Esophageal cancer
  • Long-term survival
  • Recurrence pattern


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