Background: Laparoscopic resection (LR) has become increasingly popular for the management of rectal cancer. Despite a decade of experience, the safety and efficacy of LR for rectal cancer remains to be established. This report performs a meta-analysis to compare LR with conventional open resection (CR) in patients with rectal cancer.
Methods: Using a defined search strategy, studies directly comparing CR with LR for rectal cancer were identified. The data for patients with rectal cancer treated with both approaches were extracted and used in our meta-analysis. Open surgery and laparoscopic surgery were compared in terms of postoperative mortality, morbidity, complications, oncological clearance, operating time, and time before recovery to a normal diet.
Results: Compared with CR, LR is associated with lower morbidity rates [OR 0.63 (0.41, 1.96) P=0.03], longer operating times [weighted mean difference 1.59 (1.20, 1.98) P<0.00001], similar mortality rates, wound healing disorder rates, urinary disorder rates, cardiopulmony disease rates, all leakage rates, all abscess rates and a positive rate of margin.
Conclusion: LR is associated with less postoperative morbidity, but longer operation time. A prospective randomized controlled trial is warranted to fully investigate these and other outcome measures.