Laparoscopy-assisted versus open distal gastrectomy for early gastric cancer: evidence from randomized and nonrandomized clinical trials

Ann Surg. 2012 Jul;256(1):39-52. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3182583e2e.


Objective: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of laparoscopy-assisted distal gastrectomy (LADG) in patients with early gastric cancer (EGC) to determine whether LADG is an acceptable alternative to open distal gastrectomy (ODG).

Background: LADG combined with less than D2 or D2 lymphadenectomy for EGC is still a controversial surgical intervention for its uncertain oncological safety and economic benefit. We conducted this systematic review and meta-analysis that included randomized control trials (RCTs) and non-RCTs of LADG versus ODG to evaluate whether the safety and efficacy of LADG in patients with EGC are equivalent to those of ODG.

Methods: A comprehensive search of PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, and China Knowledge Resource Integrated Database was performed. Eligible trials published between January 1, 1994, and December 31, 2010, were included in the study. Data synthesis and statistical analysis were carried out by RevMan 5.0 software. The quality of evidence was assessed by GRADEpro 3.2.2.

Results: Twenty-two studies with 3411 participants were included in this study. The mean number of lymph nodes retrieved in LADG was close to that retrieved in ODG (in the less than D2 resection: weighted mean difference [WMD] = -1.79; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], -5.78 to 2.19; P = 0.38; heterogeneity: P < 0.00001, I = 98%; and in the D2 resection: WMD = -1.53; 95% CI, -3.56 to 0.51; P = 0.14; heterogeneity: P = 0.23, I = 26%). The overall postoperative morbidity was significantly less in LADG than in ODG (relative risk = 0.58; 95% CI, 0.46-0.74; P < 0.00001; heterogeneity: P = 0.94, I = 0%). LADG reduced the intraoperative blood loss, postoperative analgesic consumption, and hospital duration, without increasing the total hospitalization costs and cancer recurrence rate. The long-term survival rate of patients undergoing LADG was similar to that of patients undergoing ODG. However, LADG was still a technically dependent and time-consuming procedure. Conversion rate of LADG was 0% to 2.94%. The reported reasons for conversion were bleeding, adhesion, and safety resection margin requirement.

Limitations: : There were potential biases and significant heterogeneity in some clinical outcome measures in this study. Methodologically high-quality controlled clinical trials were sparse for this new surgical intervention. According to The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach, when assessing the safety and efficacy of LADG by comparing with those of ODG with the defined clinical outcomes in patients with EGC, the quality of the currently available clinical evidence was very low.

Conclusions: LADG may be a technically feasible alternative for EGC when it is performed in experienced surgical centers in which patients undergoing LADG may benefit from the faster postoperative recovery. However, the currently available evidence cannot exclude the potential clinical benefits or harms, especially in the node-positive cases. Methodologically high-quality comparative studies are needed for further evaluation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Loss, Surgical / statistics & numerical data
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Flatulence / epidemiology
  • Gastrectomy / methods*
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy*
  • Morbidity
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome