Introduction. Total mesorectal excision (TME) is the cornerstone of a correct surgical therapy for extraperitoneal rectal cancer. Aim of the study is to evaluate our 5 years experience confronting retrospectively laparoscopic (lap) TME in respect to its laparotomic (open) counterpart.
Patients and Methods. 30 patients were treated laparoscopically for stage I-III extraperitoneal rectal cancer and retrospectively compared to a homogeneous group, stratified for sex, age, comorbidities and stage of disease.
Results. 30 days mortality was zero for both groups, while morbidity was 20% for the lap group and 36.6% for the open group. Mean lymph nodes harvested was 24 ± 12 for the lap group, 26 ± 14 for the open group (p > 0.05). Five years overall and disease free survival was respectively 82.2% and 81.4% in the lap group, 79.9% and 79.6% in the open group, without statistical significance (p>0.05).
Discussion. Minimally invasive TME resulted a safe, effective and oncologically adequate procedure when retrospectively compared to its laparotomic counterpart, with 5 years overall survival and disease free survival reaching no statistical significance compared to the open approach, but with all the advantages of the laparoscopy such as less pain and blood loss, faster recovery, less morbidity and better cosmetics.
Conclusions. Our study has retrospectively demonstrated that laparoscopic TME is feasible and oncologically effective, even if it remains a complex minimally invasive procedure, requiring adequate skill. More prospective, randomized studies are necessary to define such a procedure as the new gold standard in treatment of stage I-III extraperitoneal rectal cancer.
KEY WORDS: Extraperitoneal rectal cancer - Laparoscopy - Oncologic outcome.