Robotic anterior resection of rectal cancer: technique and early outcome

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Abstract

Background

The Da Vinci system is a newly developed device for colorectal surgery. With advanced stereoscopic vision, lack of tremor, and the ability to rotate the instruments surgeons find that robotic systems are ideal laparoscopic tools. Since conventional laparoscopic total mesorectal excision is a challenging procedure, we have sought to assess the utility of the Da Vinci robotic system in anterior resections for rectal cancer.

Methods

Between November 2010 and December 2011, a total of 22 patients affected by rectal cancer were operated on with robotic technique, using the Da Vinci robot. Data regarding the outcome and pathology reports were prospectively collected in a dedicated database.

Results

There were no conversions to open surgery and no postoperative mortality of any patient. Mean operative time was (220±46) minutes (range, 152-286 minutes). The median number of lymph nodes harvested was (14.6±6.5) (range, 8-32), and the circumferential margin was negative in all cases. The distal margin was (2.6±1.2) cm (range, 1.0-5.5 cm). The mean length of hospital stay was (7.8±2.6) days (range, 7.0-13.0 days). Macroscopic grading of the specimen was complete in 19 cases and nearly complete in three patients.

Conclusions

Robotic anterior resection for rectal surgery is safe and feasible in experienced hands. Outcome and pathology findings are comparable with those observed in open and laparoscopy procedures. This technique may facilitate minimally invasive radical rectal surgery.

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