Robotic-assisted surgery for low rectal dissection: from better views to better outcome

K H Ng, Y K Lim, K S Ho, B S Ooi, K W Eu
Singapore Medical Journal 2009, 50 (8): 763-7

INTRODUCTION: The use of robotics in colorectal surgery is relatively new. The first few cases of colonic surgery using da Vinci Surgical System were reported in 2002. Since then, several centres had reported on their experience, with favourable outcomes. Our department started to embark on robotics in colorectal surgery in December 2007. The aim of our paper was to share our early experience with robotics in colorectal surgery and provide an update on the current status of robotics.

METHODS: Preparations included formal training with the da Vinci Surgical System, certification of the surgeons, and obtaining Hospital Ethics committee approval. We used a hybrid technique of laparoscopic and robotic assistance in the resection of mid- to low-rectal cancer (total mesorectal excision). Laparoscopic approach was used to isolate the inferior mesenteric artery and for mobilisation of the left colon. The da Vinci robot was used in the dissection of the rectum down to the pelvic floor. We reviewed the outcomes of our early experience with emphasis on feasibility and safety.

RESULTS: Over a period of three months, we performed eight cases of robotic-assisted colorectal surgery for cancer. The median age of the patients was 55 (range 42-80) years. The median operating time was 192.5 (range 145-250) minutes. There were no intraoperative or postoperative complications related to the use of robotics. The median length of hospital stay was five (range 4-30) days.

CONCLUSION: Robotic-assisted laparoscopic colorectal surgery is a safe and feasible procedure.

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