Laparoscopic versus open total mesorectal excision with anal sphincter preservation for low rectal cancer

Z-G Zhou, M Hu, Y Li, W-Z Lei, Y-Y Yu, Z Cheng, L Li, Y Shu, T-C Wang
Surgical Endoscopy 2004, 18 (8): 1211-5

BACKGROUND: The Laparoscopic approach has been applied to colorectal surgery for many years; however, there are only a few reports on laparoscopic low and ultralow anterior resection with construction of coloanal anastomosis. This study compares open versus laparoscopic low and ultralow anterior resections, assesses the feasibility and efficacy of the laparoscopic approach of total mesorectal excision (TME) with anal sphincter preservation (ASP), and analyzes the short-term results of patients with low rectal cancer.

METHODS: We analyzed our experience via a prospective, randomized control trail. From June 2001 to September 2002, 171 patients with low rectal cancer underwent TME with ASP, 82 by the laparoscopic procedure and 89 by the open technique. The lowest margin of tumors was below peritoneal reflection and 1.5-8 cm above the dentate line (1.5-4.9 cm in 104 cases and 5-8 cm in 67 cases). The grouping was randomized.

RESULTS: Results of operation, postoperative recovery, and short-term oncological follow-up were compared between 82 laparoscopic procedures and 89 controls who underwent open surgery during the same period. In the laparoscopic group, 30 patients in whom low anterior resection was performed had the anastomosis below peritoneal reflection and more than 2 cm above the dentate line, 27 patients in whom ultralow anterior resection was performed had anastomotic height within 2 cm of the dentate line, and 25 patients in whom coloanal anastomosis was performed had the anastomosis at or below the dentate line. In the open group, the numbers were 35, 27, and 27, respectively. There was no statistical difference in operation time, administration of parenteral analgesics, start of food intake, and mortality rate between the two groups. However, blood loss was less, bowel function recovered earlier, and hospitalization time was shorter in the laparoscopic group.

CONCLUSION: Totally laparoscopic TME with ASP is feasible, and it is a minimally invasive technique with the benefits of much less blood loss during operation, earlier return of bowel function, and shorter hospitalization.

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