Short-term outcomes of laparoscopic total mesorectal excision following neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy

P Denoya, H Wang, D Sands, J Nogueras, E Weiss, Steven D Wexner
Surgical Endoscopy 2010, 24 (4): 933-8

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the feasibility of laparoscopic total mesorectal excision (TME) in mid and lower rectal cancers following neoadjuvant chemoradiation (nCRT).

BACKGROUND: The laparoscopic approach for colon cancer has been widely accepted. A few studies have shown that there are advantages of laparoscopic over open TME surgery for rectal cancer. However, the role of laparoscopy has not been clearly defined specifically in cases following nCRT.

METHODS: All patients with rectal cancer who underwent nCRT were identified; no operations for rectal carcinoma were performed laparoscopically between 1997 and 2005. The laparoscopic cases were matched to open cases based on gender, procedure, age, and body mass index (BMI). The medical records were reviewed and short-term outcome was compared between these two groups. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS 15 software.

RESULTS: Between 2002 and 2008, 64 patients were identified, including 32 patients who underwent laparoscopic surgery and 32 who had a laparotomy. There was no difference between the two groups based on gender, procedure, age, BMI or American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) classification. The procedures performed within each group included 8 abdominoperineal resections and 24 anterior resections, which included 20 colonic J-pouch-anal anastomoses and 4 straight coloanal anastomoses. In the laparoscopic group, 12 patients underwent totally laparoscopic operations, 12 were either laparoscopic-assisted or hand-assisted procedures, and 8 were converted to laparotomy. The reasons for conversion included bleeding, splenic injury, and difficult anatomy. There were no differences in comorbidities, tumor location, tumor size, tumor stage or radiation dose between the two groups. Operative time was longer in the laparoscopic group (267 + or - 76 versus 205 + or - 49 min, p < 0.001). Operative blood loss, complication rate, and mortality rate were all similar between the two groups. However, the laparoscopic group benefited from shorter length of stay (6.1 + or - 2.4 versus 7.6 + or - 2.3 days, p = 0.012), earlier first bowel movement (1.9 + or - 1 versus 3.3 + or - 2.4 days, p = 0.006), and shorter time to regular diet (3.9 + or - 2.1 versus 5.8 + or - 2.5 days, p = 0.003). There was no difference in lymph node harvest (both positive node harvest and total lymph node harvest), distal margin or radial margin.

CONCLUSIONS: In our experience, laparoscopic TME for mid and lower rectal cancer is feasible and safe. Patients benefit from the short-term advantages of laparoscopy, including shorter length of hospital stay, time to tolerating a regular diet, and time to first bowel movement or stoma function. Although there were no short-term differences in oncologic parameters, the long-term oncologic outcome requires further investigation.

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