Laparoscopic colorectal surgery is associated with a higher intraoperative complication rate than open surgery

Ann Surg. 2011 Jan;253(1):35-43. doi: 10.1097/sla.0b013e318204a8b4.


Objectives: Laparoscopic colorectal resection is equivalent to open resection in a number of important areas. However, recent data have raised concern that intraoperative complications may be increased.We conducted a meta-analysis comparing intraoperative complication rates of laparoscopic and equivalent open colorectal resection.

Data sources: Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, and Embase databases were searched, as were relevant scientific meeting abstracts and reference lists of included articles.

Review methods: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating laparoscopic versus open surgery for any colorectal indication were included. Exclusion criteria were: trials assessing hand-assisted resection, and trials that excluded conversions to open surgery. There were no restrictions on language. Data were entered on an intention-to-treat basis in prospectively designed tables with complications categorized per event as: total complications, haemorrhage, bowel injury, and solid organ injury. Corresponding authors were contacted if information was missing. The Cochrane Collaboration tool was used for assessing risk of bias, the PETO odds ratio method was used for meta-analysis.

Results: Complete intraoperative complication data were obtained for 10 out of 30 included RCTs. Four thousand and fifty-five patients were analyzed; 2159 in the Laparoscopic Group and 1896 in the Open Group. There was a higher total intraoperative complication rate (OR 1.37, P = 0.010) and a higher rate of bowel injury in the Laparoscopic Group (OR 1.88, P = 0.020). There was no difference in the rate of intraoperative haemorrhage or solid organ injury.

Conclusion: Laparoscopic colorectal resection is associated with a significantly higher intraoperative complication rate than equivalent open surgery.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colectomy*
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications*
  • Laparoscopy*
  • Rectum / surgery*