Postoperative mortality following oesophagectomy and problems in reporting its rate




There have been three previous reviews of the world literature describing postoperative mortality rate following oesophagectomy. The first documented rates in the first half of the last century, the second the period 1960–1979 and the third the interval 1980–1988. The aim of this review was to document the rate for the period 1990–2000.


Reports were sourced through PubMed and/or Medline listings.


The number of papers included in the review was 312, involving 70 756 patients. The overall mortality rate was 6·7 per cent. The 30-day mortality rate was 4·9 per cent and the in-hospital mortality rate 8·8 per cent. Survival rates, where reported, were 62·7 per cent at 1 year and 27·9 per cent at 5 years.


Operative mortality rates following oesophagectomy have continued to fall. However, the true rate is almost certainly higher than that reported here, for a variety of reasons. The 1-year survival of patients was only reported in about a quarter of the papers. It may be a more meaningful figure than postoperative mortality rate. Copyright © 2004 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.