Total pelvic exeneration (TPE) is reasonable primary surgical therapy in select patients with large bulky locally invasive rectal cancers that can be removed en bloc. Many do not have either nodal or distant metastasis. Furthermore, TPE can be curative and often is palliative for similar lesions that are recurrent or nonresponsive to radiation therapy. Operative mortality rates should be under 10% and can be under 5% for primary cases. Although improvement in preopcrativc management and operative technique, especially with urinary conduits and postoperative care is clear, both early and late complications are significant. Unfortunately, prcoperative identification of those patients requiring TPE rather than abdominoperineal or low anterior resection remains poor. Furthermore, recent improvements in techniques for pelvic slings to prevent small bowel entrapment and protection from irradiation or myocutaneous flaps to obliterate the massive dead space are not yet clearly established as preventers of either early or later complications.
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