Initiation of a Transanal Total Mesorectal Excision Program at an Academic Training Program: Evaluating Patient Safety and Quality Outcomes

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Short-term results have shown that transanal total mesorectal excision is safe and effective for patients with mid to low rectal cancers. Transanal total mesorectal excision is considered technically challenging; thus, adoption has been limited to a few academic centers in the United States.


The aim of this study is to describe outcomes after the initiation of a transanal total mesorectal excision program in the setting of an academic colorectal training program.


This is a single-center retrospective review of consecutive patients who underwent transanal total mesorectal excision from December 2014 to August 2016.


This study was conducted at an academic center with a colorectal residency program.


Patients with benign and malignant diseases were selected.


All transanal total mesorectal excisions were performed with abdominal and perineal teams working simultaneously.


The primary outcomes measured were pathologic quality, length of hospital stay, 30-day morbidity, and 30-day mortality.


There were 40 patients (24 male). The median age was 55 years (interquartile range, 46.7–63.4) with a median BMI of 29 kg/m2 (interquartile range, 24.6–32.4). The primary indication was cancer (n = 30), and tumor height from the anal verge ranged from 0.5 to 15 cm. Eighty percent (n = 24) of the patients who had rectal cancer received preoperative chemoradiation. The most common procedures were low anterior resection (67.5%), total proctocolectomy (15%), and abdominoperineal resection (12.5%). Median operative time was 380 minutes (interquartile range, 306–454.4), with no change over time. For patients with malignancy, the mesorectum was complete or nearly complete in 100% of the specimens. A median of 14 lymph nodes (interquartile range, 12–17) were harvested, and 100% of the rectal cancer specimens achieved R0 status. Median length of stay was 4.5 days (interquartile range, 4–7), and there were 6 readmissions (15%). There were no deaths or intraoperative complications.


This study’s limitations derive from its retrospective nature and single-center location.


A transanal total mesorectal excision program can be safely implemented in a major academic medical center. Quality outcomes and patient safety depend on a comprehensive training program and a coordinated team approach. See Video Abstract at

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