Objective: To review the oncological results and complication rate of our first consecutive 72 completed cases of vaginal radical trachelectomies (VRT).
Methods: From October 1991 to October 2003, we have planned 82 VRT in patients with early-stage cervical cancer (stages IA, IB, and IIA). The VRT was preceded by a complete laparoscopic pelvic node dissection and laparoscopic parametrectomy.
Results: The planned procedure was successfully completed in 72 cases and was abandoned in 10 cases (12%) because of either positive nodes discovered at the time of surgery (4), positive endocervical margins (5) or extensive tubal adhesions (1). The median age of the remaining 72 patients was 31 and most (75%) were nulliparous. The majority of the lesions were stage IA2 (32%) or IB1 (60%) and 54% were grade 1. In terms of histology, 58% were squamous and 42% were adenocarcinomas. Vascular space invasion was present in 20% of cases, and 90% of the lesions measured </=2 cm. An average of 32 lymph nodes has been removed laparoscopically. The mean follow-up is 60 months (6-156). The intraoperative complication rate was low (6%) and the postoperative morbidity was also low mainly involving bladder hypotonia (16%) and vulvar edema (12%). There were no bladder or ureteral injuries. The average hospital stay was 3 days. Excluding one patient with a small cell neuroendocrine tumor who rapidly recurred and died, there were two recurrences (2.8%) and one death (1.4%). The actuarial recurrence-free survival is 95%. Tumor size >2 cm was statistically significantly associated with a higher risk of recurrence (P = 0.03). The recurrence-free survival of the nine patients who did not have the planned VRT because of more advanced disease was statistically significantly less (P = 0.003).
Conclusion: VRT is an oncologically safe procedure in well-selected patients with early-stage disease. Lesion size >2 cm appears to be associated with a higher risk of recurrence. The morbidity of the procedure is low and it allows fertility preservation.