BACKGROUND: Evidence demonstrates short-term benefits of laparoscopic surgery for colon cancer. The situation for rectal cancer is less clear.
OBJECTIVES: This review assessed the use and short-term outcomes of elective open and laparoscopic colon and rectal cancer resections within an area health service.
DESIGN: This was a multicenter, retrospective review of a prospective database.
SETTINGS: All elective colon and rectal cancer resections in the western zone of Sydney South West Area Health Service from 2001 until 2008 were included.
PATIENTS: Included were 1721 patients who underwent either a laparoscopic colon (n = 434) or rectal (n = 157) resection or an open colon (n = 742) or rectal (n = 388) resection.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Outcome measures included operating time, blood loss, adequacy of resection, conversion rate, intensive care unit admission, length of stay, and 26 acute postoperative complications.
RESULTS: Patients were matched for age, sex, ASA, BMI, and tumor stage. Laparoscopic surgery increased in frequency. Fewer patients experienced a complication in both the laparoscopic colon (28.8 vs 54.4%; p < 0.0001) and rectal (41.4 vs 60.3%; p < 0.0001) group irrespective of age. Laparoscopic operating time for colon and rectal cancer was 24.1 minutes (p < 0.0001) and 25.8 minutes (p < 0.0001) longer, with a low conversion-to-open rate (6.5% and 8.3%; p = 0.44). Laparoscopic surgery resulted in fewer transfusions (0.4 vs 0.7units; p = 0.0028) and length of stay (7 vs 10 days; p = 0.0011) for colon cancers, and reduced intraoperative hemoglobin drop (20.5 vs 24.8; p = 0.029) and intensive care unit admissions (26.8 vs 36.3%; p = 0.032) for rectal cancers.
LIMITATIONS: This was a nonrandomized study with rectal cancers more often resected with the open technique (71.2 vs 28.8%; p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Within an area health service, elective laparoscopic resection for colon and rectal cancer had improved short-term outcomes in comparison with open surgery.