Implementation of robotic rectal surgery training programme: importance of standardisation and structured training

Sofoklis Panteleimonitis, Sotirios Popeskou, Mohamed Aradaib, Mick Harper, Jamil Ahmed, Mukhtar Ahmad, Tahseen Qureshi, Nuno Figueiredo, Amjad Parvaiz

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Purpose: A structured training programme is essential for the safe adoption of robotic rectal cancer surgery. The aim of this study is to describe the training pathway and short-term surgical outcomes of three surgeons in two centres (UK and Portugal) undertaking single-docking robotic rectal surgery with the da Vinci Xi and integrated table motion (ITM).

Methods: Prospectively, collected data for consecutive patients who underwent robotic rectal cancer resections with the da Vinci Xi and ITM between November 2015 and September 2017 was analysed. The short-term surgical outcomes of the first ten cases of each surgeon (supervised) were compared with the subsequent cases (independent). In addition, the Global Assessment Score (GAS) forms from the supervised cases were analysed and the GAS cumulative sum (CUSUM) charts constructed to investigate the training pathway of the participating surgeons.

Results: Data from 82 patients was analysed. There were no conversions to open, no anastomotic leaks and no 30-day mortality. Mean operation time was 288 min (SD 63), median estimated blood loss 20 (IQR 20–20) ml and median length of stay 5 (IQR 4–8) days. Thirty-day readmission and reoperation rates were 4% (n = 3) and 6% (n = 5) respectively. When comparing the supervised cases with the subsequent solo cases, there were no statistically significant changes in any of the short-term outcomes with the exception of mean operative time, which was significantly shorter in the independent cases (311 vs 275 min, p = 0.038). GAS form analysis and GAS CUSUM charting revealed that ten proctoring cases were enough for trainee surgeons to independently perform robotic rectal resections with the da Vinci Xi.

Conclusions: Our results show that by applying a structured training pathway and standardising the surgical technique, the single-docking procedure with the da Vinci Xi is a valid, reproducible technique that offers good short-term outcomes in our study population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)749-760
Number of pages12
JournalLangenbeck's Archives of Surgery
Issue number6
Early online date20 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • robotic surgery
  • rectal surgery
  • da Vinci xi
  • training
  • standardisation


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