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To compare pathological findings in rectal cancer specimens obtained by laparoscopy or laparotomy.Bowel length, distal and circumferential margins, and number of total and positive nodes harvested wereprospectively recorded in specimens obtained from 100 consecutive patients who had a laparoscopic total mesorectal excision for rectal cancer. These data were compared with those extracted from a well-matched group of 100 patients who had an openprocedure.The mean length of the specimens was 31.04 cm in the case group and 29.45 cm in the open group (NS). All distal margins in both groups were negative. The circumferential margin was positive in four cases in the case group and nine cases in the open group (NS). The mean number of lymph nodes harvested was 13.76 nodes/patient in the case group and 12.74 nodes/patient in the open group (NS). The mean number of involved lymph nodes was 1.18 node/case in the case group and 1.96 nodes/case in group 2 (NS).There is no difference between laparoscopic and open approaches concerning specimen's length, distal margin, circumferential margin, and total and positive lymph nodes. Laparoscopic rectal resection is not only technically feasible, but it seems also to be oncologically safe.