Updates Surg. 2022 Aug 6. doi: 10.1007/s13304-022-01343-0. Online ahead of print.
We aim to review the available literature on patients with esophageal cancer treated with robot-assisted (RAME) or video-assisted McKeown’s esophagectomy (VAME), to compare the efficacy and safety of the two approaches. Original research studies that evaluated perioperative and oncologic outcomes of RAME versus VAME were identified, from January 1990 to July 2022. The 90-day mortality, the R0 resection rate, the dissected lymph nodes, the perioperative parameters, and the complications were calculated according to a fixed and a random effect model. The Q statistics and I2 statistic were used to test for heterogeneity among the studies. Seven studies were included, incorporating a total of 1617 patients treated with RAME or VAME. The 90-day mortality was similar between the two groups. No difference was found regarding the R0 resection rate and the number of dissected lymph nodes. In addition, the perioperative parameters, along with the total complications were similar between RAME and VAME. Nonetheless, the incidence of postoperative pneumonia was higher in the VAME group (OR:0.67 [95% CI: 0.49, 0.93]; p = 0.02). Finally, our outcomes were further validated by sensitivity analysis including only studies performing propensity score-matched analysis. Our meta-analysis showed that RAME was equivalent to VAME in terms of safety, feasibility, and oncologic adequacy. These results should be interpreted with caution due to the small number of included studies. New Randomized Controlled trials, that are currently active, will provide further evidence with greater clarity to assess the effectiveness and safety of RAME for esophageal cancer.