Robotic-assisted laparoscopic transanal total mesorectal excision for rectal cancer: a prospective pilot study

Marcos Gómez Ruiz, Ignacio Martín Parra, Carlos Manuel Palazuelos, Joaquin Alonso Martín, Carmen Cagigas Fernández, Julio Castillo Diego, Manuel Gómez Fleitas
Diseases of the Colon and Rectum 2015, 58 (1): 145-53

BACKGROUND: We performed a prospective pilot study of robotic-assisted laparoscopic transanal proctectomy with total mesorectal excision for the surgical treatment of rectal cancer. This study was to assess the feasibility and safety of robotic-assisted laparoscopic transanal total mesorectal excision.

TECHNIQUE: All patients underwent robotic-assisted laparoscopic left colon mobilization, robotic-assisted laparoscopic transanal total mesorectal excision, ultralow mechanical colorectal or handsewn coloanal anastomosis, and a diverting loop ileostomy. Four patients with stage III disease received long-course preoperative chemoradiation before surgery.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary and secondary end points included the assessment of pathological examination and postoperative morbidity.

RESULTS: Between August 2013 and January 2014, 4 men and 1 woman underwent robotic-assisted laparoscopic transanal total mesorectal excision. Patient age and BMI were 57 ± 13.9 years and 25.8 ± 2,7 kg/m. Tumors were located an average of 5 ± 1 cm from the anal verge and were preoperatively staged as T2N0M0 (1 patient) and T2N1M0 (4 patients). Mean operative time was 398 ± 88 minutes with no intraoperative complications. Mean length of hospital stay was 6 ± 1 days. A Clavien II, grade B anastomotic leakage developed in 1 patient postoperatively. In all cases, pathological examination of the total mesorectal excision specimens showed complete mesorectal excision with negative proximal, distal, and circumferential margins. All patients were disease-free at their initial 3-month follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: Robotic-assisted laparoscopic transanal total mesorectal excision is a feasible and safe option for the surgical management of early-stage rectal cancers. Robotic technology with endowristed instruments and 3-dimensional high-definition imaging are of great help in overcoming the limitations of traditional laparoscopic transanal surgery. Long-term functional and oncological assessments of outcome are needed.

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