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Annals of Surgical Oncology

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Robotic Rectal Cancer Resection: A Retrospective Multicenter Analysis

Minia Hellan MD, FACS, James Ouellette DO, Jorge A. Lagares-Garcia MD, Stephen M. Rauh MD, Harold L. Kennedy MD, John D. Nicholson MD, David Nesbitt MD, Craig S. Johnson MD, Alessio Pigazzi MD, PhD
Colorectal Cancer
Volume 22, Issue 7 / July , 2015



Conventional laparoscopy has been applied to colorectal resections for more than 2 decades. However, laparoscopic rectal resection is technically demanding, especially when performing a tumor-specific mesorectal excision in a difficult pelvis. Robotic surgery is uniquely designed to overcome most of these technical limitations. The aim of this study was to confirm the feasibility of robotic rectal cancer surgery in a large multicenter study.


Retrospective data of 425 patients who underwent robotic tumor-specific mesorectal excision for rectal lesions at seven institutions were collected. Outcome data were analyzed for the overall cohort and were stratified according to obese versus non-obese and low versus ultra-low resection patients.


Mean age was 60.9 years, and 57.9 % of patients were male. Overall, 51.3 % of patients underwent neoadjuvant therapy, while operative time was 240 min, mean blood loss 119 ml, and intraoperative complication rate 4.5 %. Mean number of lymph nodes was 17.4, with a positive circumferential margin rate of 0.9 %. Conversion rate to open was 5.9 %, anastomotic leak rate was 8.7 %, with a mean length of stay of 5.7 days. Operative times were significantly longer and re-admission rate higher for the obese population, with all other parameters comparable. Ultra-low resections also had longer operative times.


Robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery for the treatment of rectal cancer is safe and can be performed according to current oncologic principles. BMI seems to play a minor role in influencing outcomes. Thus, robotics might be an excellent treatment option for the challenging patient undergoing resection for rectal cancer.

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