Systematic Review of Pelvic Exenteration With En Bloc Sacrectomy for Recurrent Rectal Adenocarcinoma: R0 Resection Predicts Disease-free Survival

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The management of recurrent rectal cancer is challenging. At the present time, pelvic exenteration with en bloc sacrectomy offers the only hope of a lasting cure.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate clinical outcome measures and complication rates following sacrectomy for recurrent rectal cancer.


A search was conducted on Pub Med for English language articles relevant to sacrectomy for recurrent rectal cancer with no time limitations.


Studies reported sacrectomy with survival data for recurrent rectal adenocarcinoma.


Disease-free survival following sacrectomy for recurrent rectal cancer was the main outcome measured.


A total of 220 patients with recurrent rectal cancer were included from 7 studies, of which 160 were men and 60 were women. Overall median operative time was 717 (570–992) minutes and blood loss was 3.7 (1.7–6.2) L. An R0 (>1-mm resection margin) resection was achieved in 78% of patients. Disease-free survival associated with R0 resection was 55% at a median follow-up period of 33 (17–60) months; however, none of the patients with R1 (<1-mm resection margin) survived this period. Postoperative complication rates and median length of stay were found to decrease with more distal sacral transection levels. In contrast, R1 resection rates increased with more distal transection.


The studies assessed by this review were retrospective case series and thus are subject to significant bias.


Sacrectomy performed for patients with recurrent rectal cancer is associated with significant postoperative morbidity. Morbidity and postoperative length of stay increase with the level of sacral transection. Nevertheless, approximately half of patients eligible for rectal excision with en bloc sacrectomy may benefit from disease-free survival for up to 33 months, with R0 resection predicting disease-free survival in the medium term.

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