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The impact of robotic total mesorectal excision on survival of patients with rectal cancer—a propensity matched analysis

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Introduction: Robotic surgery can overcome some limitations of laparoscopic total mesorectal excision (L-TME), improving the quality of the surgery. We aim to compare the medium-term oncological outcomes of L-TME vs. robotic total mesorectal excision (R-TME) for rectal cancer.

Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed including patients who underwent L-TME or R-TME between 2011 and 2017. Patients presenting with metastatic disease or R1 resection were excluded. From a total of 680 patients, 136 cases of R-TME were matched based on age, gender, stage and time of follow-up with an equal number of patients who underwent L-TME. We compared 3-year disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS).

Results: Major complications were lower in the robotic group (13.2% vs. 22.8%, p = 0.04), highlighting the anastomotic leakage rate (7.4% vs. 16.9%, p = 0.01).

The 3-year DFS rate for all stages was 69% for L-TME and 84% for R-TME (p = 0.02). For disease stage III, the 3-year DFS was significantly higher in the R-TME group. OS was also significantly superior in the robotic group for every stage, reaching 86% in stage III.

In the multivariate analysis, R-TME was a significant positive prognostic factor for distant metastasis (OR 0.2 95% CI 0.1, 0.6, p = 0.001) and OS (OR 0.2 95% CI 0.07, 0.4, p = 0.000). Moreover, major complications were also found to have a negative impact on OS (OR 8.3 95% CI 3.2, 21.6, p = 0.000).

Conclusion: R-TME for rectal cancer can achieve better oncological outcomes compared with L-TME, especially in stage III rectal cancers. However, a longer follow-up period is needed to confirm these findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2081-2089
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Colorectal Disease
Issue number12
Early online date11 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • The impact of robotic total mesorectal excision

    Rights statement: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in International Journal of Colorectal Disease. The final authenticated version is available online at:

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 1.49 MB, PDF document

    Due to publisher’s copyright restrictions, this document is not freely available to download from this website until: 11/11/20

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