Totally-laparoscopic versus laparoscopic-assisted low anterior resection for rectal cancer: are outcomes different?

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Background: Laparoscopic low anterior resection for rectal cancer has superior short-term benefits compared to open surgery. When operative conditions do not favour a totally-laparoscopic (TL) approach, a hybrid operation can be performed. In this laparoscopic-assisted (LA) approach, mobilization and vessel ligation are performed laparoscopically, with total mesorectal excision and distal transection performed either partially or totally in an extra-corporeal fashion. We compared short-term post-operative and oncological outcomes of both approaches. Methods: A prospectively collected database of patients who underwent laparoscopic low anterior resection for rectal cancer between January 2009 and December 2014 was retrospectively analysed. Demographics, post-operative and oncological outcomes were compared. Results: Of 174 patients, 97 were completed by TL, 62 by LA and the remaining 15 were converted to open. Baseline demographics were similar. LA group compared to TL group had bulkier rectal cancers (6.75 cm3 versus 4.50 cm3, P = 0.04) which were lower (6 cm versus 7 cm from anal verge, P = 0.02). They were of a more advanced tumour grade and had greater incidence of lymphovascular invasion. Yet, post-operative outcomes such as time to diet, pain scores, hospitalization duration, wound-related and anastomotic complications, 30-day morbidity and mortality were similar. There was no difference in oncological adequacy, including circumferential resection margins, distal margins, lymph node harvest and 2-year local recurrence rates. Conclusion: Laparoscopic-assisted low anterior resection enables minimally invasive rectal surgery to be performed despite unfavourable tumour factors and technical challenges; and compares favourably with TL approach in terms of short-term outcomes and oncological safety.




Ng, J. L., Lai, J. H., Li, H. H., Tan, E. P., & Tang, C. L. (2018). Totally-laparoscopic versus laparoscopic-assisted low anterior resection for rectal cancer: are outcomes different? ANZ Journal of Surgery, 88(12), E818–E823.

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