Background: Chylothorax after transthoracic esophagectomy for cancer is an uncommon but potentially life-threatening postoperative complication. It has been reported that preventive thoracic duct ligation can reduce the incidence of postoperative chylothorax after esophagectomy for cancer. In this prospective series, we evaluated the results of preventive intraoperative thoracic duct mass ligation in patients who underwent transthoracic esophagectomy for cancer. Methods: From 2001 to 2006, 323 patients underwent transthoracic esophagectomy for cancer and duct ligation during the operation was routinely performed. Results: No intraoperative or postoperative complications directly related to the procedure were recorded. No postoperative chylothorax was observed. Conclusions: In this series, the technique of intraoperative thoracic duct mass ligation proved to be safe and effectively prevented postoperative chylothorax in patients who underwent transthoracic esophagectomy for cancer.
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