Short-term follow-up after laparoscopic versus conventional total mesorectal excision for low rectal cancer in a large teaching hospital

A H W Schiphorst, A Doeksen, M E Hamaker, D D E Zimmerman, A Pronk
International Journal of Colorectal Disease 2014, 29 (1): 117-25

PURPOSE: Laparoscopic resection for low rectal cancer remains controversial, and large randomized studies on oncologic outcome are lacking. The objective of this study was to analyze the short-term results of laparoscopic resection versus conventional total mesorectal excision (TME) for low rectal cancer (≤10 cm from the anal verge).

METHODS: The institutional colorectal surgery database was reviewed, and 166 consecutive patients operated for low rectal cancer between 2006 and 2011 were included in this analysis which focuses on the first 18 months of follow-up.

RESULTS: Eighty patients underwent conventional TME, whereas 86 patients underwent laparoscopic TME. Patient characteristics were comparable between groups. Conversion rate was 17 %. Laparoscopic rectal resection resulted in significantly less blood loss (200 versus 475 ml, p = <0.001) and a 3-day shorter hospital stay (median, 7 versus 10 days; p = 0.06). Oncologic results from resected specimens were comparable, although significantly more lymph nodes were harvested in laparoscopic resections (median, 13 versus 11; p = 0.005). Disease-free survival after curative resection was better in the laparoscopic group (p = 0.04), but this was no longer significant after correction for potential confounders.

CONCLUSIONS: This analysis of short-term results of laparoscopic versus conventional TME for low rectal cancer demonstrates that laparoscopic surgery is feasible and safe, resulting in similar oncologic outcomes with less blood loss, a trend towards less postoperative complications and shorter duration of hospital stay. Further randomized studies are needed to attribute to the body of evidence of equivalence or even superiority of laparoscopic resections compared to conventional resections for distal rectal cancer.

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