Background: A robotic system (da Vinci(®) Surgical System, Intuitive Surgical Inc., Sunnyvale, CA, USA) has technical advantages over conventional laparoscopic surgery because it increases the precision and accuracy of anatomical dissection. The present study aimed to compare the short-term outcomes between robot-assisted intersphincteric resection (ISR) and laparoscopic ISR for distal rectal cancer.
Methods: Patients who underwent robot- or laparoscopy-assisted ISR for rectal cancer between March 2008 and July 2011 were included in this retrospective comparative study. Perioperative and postoperative data, including complications and early functional outcomes, were analyzed between the two groups. Functional outcomes were evaluated using the Wexner scoring system, the International Prostate Symptom Score, and the 5-item version of the International Index of Erectile Function.
Results: A total of 40 patients underwent robot-assisted and 40 underwent laparoscopic ISR. The mean operative time was significantly longer in the robotic group than in the laparoscopic group (235.5 vs. 185.4 min; p < 0.001). Transabdominal ISR, in which intersphincteric dissection is completed in the pelvic cavity, was performed more with robotic assistance than with laparoscopic surgery (8 vs. 2 cases; p = 0.043). No difference was observed between groups regarding postoperative morbidity and pathological outcomes. The robot-assisted group showed a trend toward less postoperative blood loss and early recovery of functional outcomes.
Conclusion: Robot-assisted surgery was safe and effective for ISR of distal rectal cancer and showed surgical outcomes similar to those of the latest laparoscopic ISR. The favorable results of the robot-assisted ISR included reduced adaptation time, alleviated difficulty of perineal phase, and early recovery of functional outcomes in this analysis of short-term clinical outcomes.