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, 58 (7), 659-67

Oncologic and Clinicopathologic Outcomes of Robot-Assisted Total Mesorectal Excision for Rectal Cancer


Oncologic and Clinicopathologic Outcomes of Robot-Assisted Total Mesorectal Excision for Rectal Cancer

Ajit Pai et al. Dis Colon Rectum.


Background: Minimally invasive rectal cancer surgery is challenging and technically difficult. Robotic technology offers a stable surgical platform with magnified 3-dimensional vision and endowristed instruments, which may facilitate the minimally invasive procedure. Data on short-term and long-term outcomes indicate results comparable to laparoscopic and open surgery.

Objective: We assessed the perioperative, clinicopathologic, and oncologic outcomes of robotic surgery for rectal cancer.

Design: This study was a review of a prospective database of patients over a 7-year period.

Settings: Procedures took place in the colorectal division at a tertiary hospital.

Patients: From August 2005 to October 2012, 101 patients with rectal cancer were operated on using the robotic approach. Rectal cancers were defined as tumors within 15 cm from the anal verge.

Interventions: Patients received either a totally robotic or a hybrid laparoscopic-robotic operation with rectal dissection performed robotically.

Main outcome measures: Operative and perioperative data, pathologic outcomes, and disease-free and overall survival were examined.

Results: There were 63 men (62.4%) and 38 women (37.6%) in the study; the mean age was 61.5 years. Mid rectal and low rectal cancers composed 74.2% of cases. Preoperative chemoradiation was given to 74.3% of patients. Four conversions to open surgery occurred. Circumferential margin positivity was 5%, and median lymph node yield was 15. At a mean follow-up of 34.9 months, the disease-free survival was 79.2% and overall survival 90.1%. The mean cost of robotic surgery was $22,640 versus $18,330 for the hand-assisted laparoscopic approach (p = 0.005).

Limitations: This was a single-institution study with no head-to-head comparative group.

Conclusions: Robotic surgery for rectal cancer extirpation is safe and feasible. It has a low conversion rate, satisfies all measures of pathologic adequacy, and offers acceptable oncologic outcomes. Robotic surgery is significantly more expensive than hand-assisted laparoscopic surgery. The absence of randomized data limits recommending it as the standard of care at present.

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