Although esophagectomy remains the preferred treatment for esophageal cancer, it is still associated with a number of complications, including post-operative venous thromboembolism (VTE). The aim of this study was to summarize the reported incidence of VTE after esophagectomy, its risk factors, and prevention strategies.
We conducted a systematic search of the literature in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines.
Fourteen studies met our inclusion criteria and were selected in the present review. Overall, we identified 9768 patients who underwent esophagectomy, with a post-operative VTE rate of 4% (440 patients). The reported risk factors for VTE included advanced age, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class III or IV, a history of cardiovascular or pulmonary disease, and the implementation of preoperative chemo-radiotherapy. Postoperative acute respiratory distress syndrome was also associated with VTE. No universally applied prevention strategies for VTE after esophagectomy were identified in the literature.
Despite advances in perioperative care, VTE after esophagectomy still represents a source of morbidity for about 4% of patients. Low molecular weight heparin is suggested as the routine standard prophylactic regimen after esophageal cancer surgery.