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> Laparoscopic rectal resection with anal sphincter preservation for rectal cancer - Long term outcome

Background: Total mesorectal excision (TME) is the surgical gold standard treatment for middle and low third rectal carcinoma. Laparoscopy has gradually become accepted for the treatment of colorectal malignancy after a long period of questions regarding its safety. The purposes of this study were to examine prospectively our experience with laparoscopic TME and high rectal resections, to evaluate the surgical outcomes and oncologic adequacy, and to discuss the role of this procedure in the treatment of rectal cancer.

Methods : Between December 1992 and December 2004, all patients who underwent elective laparoscopic sphincter preserving rectal resection for rectal cancer were enrolled prospectively in this study. Data collection included preoperative, operative, postoperative and oncologic results with long-term follow-up.

Results : A total of 218 patients were operated on during the study period: 142 patients underwent laparoscopic TME and 76 patients underwent anterior resection. Of the TME patients, 122 patients were operated using the double-stapling technique, and 20 patients underwent colo-anal anastomosis with hand-sewn sutures. Mean operative time was 138 min (range, 107–205), and mean blood loss was 120 ml (range, 30–350). Conversion to open surgery occurred in 26 cases (12%). Mortality rate during the first 30 days was 1%. Anastomotic leaks were observed in 10.5% of the patients. Of these, 61.9% needed reoperation and diverting stoma, and the rest were treated conservatively. Three patients had postoperative bleeding requiring relaparoscopy. Other minor complications (infection and urinary retention) occurred in 9.1% of patients. Mean ambulation time and mean hospital stay were 1.6 days (range, 1–5) and 6.4 days (range, 3–28) , respectively. Patients were followed for a mean period of 57 months. No port site metastases were observed during follow-up. The recurrence rate was 6.8 %. Overall survival rate was 67% after 5 years and 53.5% after 10 years.

Conclusion: Laparoscopic anterior resection and TME with anal sphincter preservation for rectal cancer is feasible and safe. The short- and long-term outcomes reported in this series are comparable with those of conventional surgery.

Keywords : Laparoscopy - Rectal cancer - Total mesorectal excision (TME)

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