Robotic versus laparoscopic total mesorectal excision for rectal cancer: a meta-analysis of eight studies

Binghong Xiong, Li Ma, Wei Huang, Qikang Zhao, Yong Cheng, Jingshan Liu
Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery: Official Journal of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2015, 19 (3): 516-26

BACKGROUND: Robotic surgery has been used successfully in many branches of surgery, but there is little evidence in the literature on its use in rectal cancer (RC). We conducted this meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and non-randomized controlled trials (NRCTs) to evaluate whether the safety and efficacy of robotic total mesorectal excision (RTME) in patients with RC are equivalent to those of laparoscopic TME (LTME).

METHODS: Pubmed, Embase, Cochrane Library, Ovid, and Web of Science databases were searched. Studies clearly documenting a comparison of RTME with LTME for RC were selected. Operative and recovery outcomes, early postoperative morbidity, and oncological parameters were evaluated.

RESULTS: Eight studies were identified that included 1229 patients in total, 554 (45.08 %) in the RTME group and 675 (54.92 %) in the LTME group. Compared with LTME, RTME was associated with lower conversion rate (OR 0.23, 95 % CI [0.10, 0.52]; P = 0.0004), lower positive rate of circumferential resection margins (CRM) (2.74 % vs 5.78 %, OR 0.44, 95 % CI [0.20, 0.96], P = 0.04), and lesser incidence of erectile dysfunction (ED) (OR 0.09, 95 % CI [0.02, 0.41]; P = 0.002). Operation time, estimated blood loss, recovery outcome, postoperative morbidity and mortality, length of hospital stay, number of lymph nodes harvested, distal resection margin (DRM), proximal resection margin (PRM), and local recurrence had no significant differences between the two groups.

CONCLUSIONS: RTME is safe and feasible and may be an alternative treatment for RC. More international multicenter prospective large sample RCTs investigating the long-term oncological and functional outcomes are needed to determine the advantages of RTME over LTME in RC.

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