Short-Term Outcomes After Robotic-Assisted Total Mesorectal Excision for Rectal Cancer

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Laparoscopic total mesorectal excision for rectal cancer remains a difficult procedure with high conversion rates. We have sought to improve on some of the pitfalls of laparoscopy by using the DaVinci robotic system. Here we report our two-year experience with robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery for primary rectal cancer.


A prospectively maintained database of all rectal cancer cases starting in November 2004 was created. A series of 39 consecutive unselected patients with primary rectal cancer was analyzed. Clinical and pathologic outcomes were reviewed retrospectively.


22 patients had low anterior, 11 intersphincteric and six abdominoperineal resections. Postoperative mortality and morbidity were % and 12.8%, respectively. The median operative time was 285 minutes (range 180–540 mins). The conversion rate was 2.6%. A total mesorectal excision with negative circumferential and distal margins was accomplished in all patients, and a median of 13 (range 7–28) lymph nodes was removed. The anastomotic leak rate was 12.1%. The median hospital stay was 4 days. There have been no local recurrences at a median follow-up of 13 months.


Robotic-assisted surgery for rectal cancer can be carried out safely and according to oncological principles. This approach shows promising short-term outcomes and may facilitate the adoption of minimally invasive rectal surgery.



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