BACKGROUND: Both laparoscopic surgery and fast-track perioperative care have demonstrated advantages in patients undergoing elective colorectal resections. It is unclear whether there is an additive effect by combining these 2 procedures.
OBJECTIVE: The study aimed to conduct a meta-analysis of the randomized evidence to compare laparoscopic with open colorectal surgery within fast-track perioperative care.
DATA SOURCES: PubMed, MEDLINE, Embase, and the Cochrane library databases were electronically searched (January 1985 to August 2011).
STUDY SELECTION: Randomized clinical trials compared laparoscopic with open colorectal resections within fast-track programs.
INTERVENTION: Investigators independently reviewed articles, extracted data, and assessed study quality according to standardized criteria.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The main outcomes measured were postoperative hospital stay, overall hospital stay, readmission rate, morbidity, and mortality.
RESULTS: Three trials were considered suitable for meta-analysis. A total of 171 patients underwent laparoscopic surgery, and 142 had open surgery. Meta-analysis showed that laparoscopic colorectal surgery had shorter postoperative hospital stays (weighted mean difference −1.06; 95% CI, −2.06 to −0.06, z = 2.08, p = 0.04) and shorter overall hospital stays (weighted mean difference −2.04; 95% CI, −3.50 to −0.58, z = 2.74, p < 0.01). No significant differences were noted for readmission rate (OR 0.54; 95% CI, 0.26–1.12, z = 1.65, p = 0.10), morbidity (OR 0.68; 95% CI, 0.42–1.10, z =1.58, p = 0.11), and mortality (OR 0.33; 95% CI, 0.09–1.18, z =1.70, p = 0.09). No publication bias and no significant heterogeneity were noted.
LIMITATIONS: This study was limited because of its small sample size.
CONCLUSIONS: Laparoscopic colorectal surgery has shorter postoperative hospital stays and overall hospital stays than open surgery within fast-track perioperative care. There is no significant difference with respect to readmission rate, morbidity, and mortality. Because the number of patients included in the present trials was small, further studies should be undertaken to confirm these findings.