Background: Obesity is a modern-day phenomenon that is increasing throughout the world. The aim of the present study was to provide data to establish whether the laparoscopic approach to colorectal surgery in the obese patient represents a risk or, rather, a benefit for the patient.
Method: The data presented in this paper were obtained within the framework of a prospective multicenter study initiated by the "Laparoscopic Colorectal Surgery Study Group (LCSSG)" and performed on 5,853 recruited patients. The perioperative course was compared between the three groups: nonobese, obesity grade I, and obesity grade II/III.
Results: Increasing body mass index correlated with a highly significant increase in the duration of the operation (nonobese 167 min, grade I 182 min, grade II/III 191 min; p < 0.001) and in the conversion rate (nonobese 5.5%, obesity grade I 7.9%, obesity grade II/III 13.1%; p < 0.001). The intraoperative complication rate also showed a tendency to increase (nonobese 5.0%, grade I 6.2%, grade II/III 7.1%; p = 0.219). In contrast, no significant differences were found between the groups with regard to the postoperative complication rate (nonobese 20.7%, grade I 21.0%, grade II/III 20.2%), the reoperation rate (nonobese 4.1%, grade I 3.9%, grade II/III 3.6%), and the postoperative mortality rate (nonobese 1.1%, grade I 1.9%, grade II/III 1.8%).
Conclusion: Laparoscopic colorectal surgery is clearly more technically demanding in the obese patient. Apart from this, however, it is not associated with any increased risk of postoperative complications, and thus demonstrates that the pathologically overweight patient can benefit to a particular degree from the laparoscopic modality.