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Laparoscopic gastrectomy for treatment of advanced gastric cancer: preliminary experience on 38 cases.

Minerva Chirurgica 2009 October
AIM: In the last 20 years the laparoscopic surgery rapidly and successfully diffused for the treatment of benign diseases and recently also for the treatment of malignancy; newerteless, the laparoscopic gastrectomy for gastric cancer is still controversial, in relation to extreme difficulty of a radical surgical resection performing with an accurate lymphadectomy. The authors present a surgical experience of patients affected by advanced gastric cancer who underwent total or subtotal gastrectomy with videoassisted or entirely laparoscopic technique in order to evaluate the safety, feasibility, advantages and limits of this surgical approach.

METHODS: between January 2002 and August 2007 we performed 40 laparoscopic procedure for advanced gastric cancer; of these, 38 (95%) patients underwent a laparoscopic gastric resection and 2 (5%) patients underwent a palliative surgical treatment (laparoscopic gastro-entero-anastomosis). In the 38 patients which underwent laparoscopic gastrectomy, the anatomical localization of cancer, ASA score, pTNM classification, type of surgical laparoscopic technique (videoassisted or entirey laparoscopic technique), mean number of lymph nodes harvested, mean operative time, rate of conversion, postoperative morbidity and mortality and rate of local recurrence at 24 mounths follow-up were retrospectively analyzed.

RESULTS: Thirty-eight laparoscopic gastrectomies for gastric cancer were performed: in relation to surgical technique, 4 (10.5%) of these were video-assisted gastric resection (left subcostal minilaparotomy and extracorporeal anastomosis) and 34 (89.5%) were entirely laparoscopic gastrectomy; regarding to extension of surgical resection, there were 16 (42%) total D2 gastrectomies and 22 (58%) subtotal gastrectomies, of which 19 D2 gastrectomy and 3 D1 gastrectomy. Regarding the ASA score, 23% of patients were in ASA I, 52% in ASA II, 25% in ASA III. The mean operative time was 225 minutes (range 160-285) for total gastrectomy and 183 minutes (range 70-270) for subtotal gastrectomy. Overall, on 38 laparoscopic gastric resection, the conversion rate was 7.8% (3 patients). The number of lymph nodes harvested was 28 (range 5-53). No major intraoperative complications were observed. Overall morbidity was 31.5% (12 patients); the rate of postoperative surgical complications was 8% (3 patients). One patient (2.6%) dead for a sepsis subsequent to leak of esophagojejunal anastomosis. Mean hospital stay was 16 days for total gastrectomies and 12 days for subtotal gastrectomies. Three cases (7.9%) of cancer recurrence were observed in 3 patients (2 patiens UICC IIIa, one patient UICC IIIb) at 20th, 23th, 24th postoperative month and one case (2.6%) of peritoneal carcinosis at 18th month. No port-site metastasis were observed at 24-month follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: On the basis of this surgical preliminary experience, laparoscopic gastrectomy for malignancy resulted a technically safe surgical procedure if performed by an advanced laparoscopic surgical team, with additional benefits, time to resumption of oral intake, morbidity rate, and acceptance from patients. A radical laparoscopic gastrectomy via laparoscopic approach is advisable until UICC stage II, in patients with ASA score I-III and minimal endoabdominal adhesion. The safe and efficacy of laparoscopic treatment in locoregional limph nodes dissection is still controversial. However, long-term results of prospective and comparative trials will be necessary to show the real oncologically benefits of laparoscopic approach.

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