Purpose: We conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate and compare the short- and long-term results of laparoscopy-assisted and open rectal surgery for the treatment of patients with rectal cancer.
Methods: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Science Citation Index, and the Cochrane Controlled Trial Register for relevant papers published between January 1990 and April 2011 by using the search terms "laparoscopy," "laparoscopy assisted," "surgery," "rectal cancer," and "randomized controlled trials." We analyzed outcomes over short- and long-term periods.
Results: We identified 12 papers reporting results from randomized controlled trials that compared laparoscopic surgery with open surgery for rectal cancer. Our meta-analysis included 2,095 patients with rectal cancer; 1,096 had undergone laparoscopic surgery, and 999 had undergone open surgery. In the short-term period, 13 outcome variables were examined. In the long-term period, eight oncologic variables, as well as late morbidity, urinary function, and sexual function were analyzed. Laparoscopic surgery for rectal cancer was associated with a reduction in intraoperative blood loss and the number of transfused patients, earlier resumption of oral intake, and a shorter duration of hospital stay over the short-term, but with similar short-term and long-term oncologic outcomes compared to conventional open surgery.
Conclusions: Laparoscopic surgery may be an acceptable alternative treatment option to conventional open surgery for rectal cancer.