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In the last ten years, several robotic systems have been developed to overcome the loss of the three-dimensional view and dexterity characteristic of laparoscopic surgery. The aim of this study was to compare the traditional laparoscopic approach and robotic techniques in the treatment of colorectal diseases.The study compares a consecutive series of patients treated surgically for colorectal disease from June 2001 to May 2003 with the da Vinci™ robotic system (Intuitive Surgical®) and a matched number of patients who underwent conventional laparoscopy during the same time interval. The factors analyzed were the time required to prepare the patient and the room, total time of surgery, length of specimens, number of lymph nodes retrieved, blood loss, complications, and postoperative results.The study included 106 patients (53 in each group). No differences were observed in total time of surgery (laparoscopic group, 222 ± 77 minutesvs. robotic group, 240 ± 61 minutes), specimen length (laparoscopic group, 29 ± 11 cmvs. robotic group, 27 ± 13 cm), or number of lymph nodes retrieved (laparoscopic group, 16 ± 9vs. robotic group, 17 ± 10). It took significantly longer to prepare the operating room and patient in the robotic group (24 ± 12 minutes) than in the laparoscopic group (18 ± 7 minutes). There were three conversions to laparotomy in the laparoscopic group; in the robotic group, two cases were converted to laparoscopy and three to hand-assisted laparoscopy. No significant differences were observed between the two groups in terms of recovery of bowel function and postoperative hospital stay.Robot-assisted surgery proved to be as safe and effective as laparoscopic techniques in the treatment of colorectal diseases. Because of its dexterity and three-dimensional view, the da Vinci™ system was particularly useful in specific stages of the procedure,e.g.,takedown of the splenic flexure, dissection of a narrow pelvis, identification of nervous plexus, and handsewn anastomosis. The cost-effectiveness of the procedure still needs to be evaluated.