Laparoscopic resection for carcinoma of the colon and rectum is currently under intense scrutiny.
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to review our three-year experience of laparoscopic surgery for colon and rectal carcinoma.
Methods: From October 1991 to September 1994, 76 laparoscopic procedures were performed for colorectal neoplasia (32 males and 44 females; mean age, 69 years). Fifty-five procedures were done for carcinoma, 16 for large polyps, and five for diversion in patients with unresectable cancer. For resectable tumors, the average size was 4 cm; staging was as follows: Dukes A, 10 patients; Dukes B1, 11; Dukes B2, 18; Dukes C1, 1; Dukes C2, 9; and Dukes D, 8. Fourteen cases (25 percent) that were converted to open procedures were compared with the 41 cases that were completed laparoscopically for differences in tumor size, surgical margins, number of lymph nodes harvested, length of hospital stay, and evidence of recurrence. Procedures completed laparoscopically were then compared with a group of open controls completed during the same time period.
Results: During the first six months, the conversion rate was 32 percent but dropped to 8 percent in the last six months. There were a total of 19 complications (25 percent), of which 8 (14 percent) were directly related to the laparoscopic technique. The mean number of lymph nodes harvested in laparoscopic resection for carcinoma was 8.5, and the average closest tumor margin was 4.5 cm. When laparoscopic resections were compared with converted and standard open colectomies, there was no significant difference in tumor margins or numbers of nodes resected. Length of stay was significantly shorter for anterior resections completed laparoscopically than for converted or conventional colectomies. Although this was also the trend for right hemicolectomies, it did not reach statistical significance. Mean follow-up of the group completed laparoscopically was 16.7 months, during which there was one recurrence. There were no trocar site recurrences.
Conclusions: This early experience seems to indicate that laparoscopic surgery for colorectal carcinoma does not per se compromise surgical oncologic principles and encourages us to continue our critical appraisal of this technique.