• Vol. 34 No. 3, 223–228
  • 15 April 2005

Laparoscopic-assisted Colon and Rectal Surgery – Lessons Learnt from Early Experience



Introduction: Current evidence shows that laparoscopic bowel surgery is associated with a lower incidence of postoperative ileus, lower postoperative pulmonary and wound complication rates, shorter hospital stays and a quicker return to activity than open surgery. This paper aims to report our early experience with laparoscopic-assisted colorectal procedures in our Centre for Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery and the important lessons we have learnt from this. Materials and Methods: All laparoscopic-assisted colon and rectal surgical (LAC) procedures performed between January 2000 and December 2003 were reviewed. Clinical and operative records of these patients were reviewed. Data retrieved included patient demographics, selected intra-operative parameters, and postoperative outcomes. In order to provide a comparable reference, an equal number of matched open procedures over the same period were accrued and similarly analysed. All patients were managed on a standard carepath. All data were entered into a database and analysed using a statistical software package. Results: Forty-two laparoscopic-assisted colorectal procedures were performed from June 2000 to December 2003. A similar number of diagnosis-matched patients with open colorectal procedures were used as comparison. The diagnoses included cancer (68.5% versus 73.8%), diverticulosis (5.7% versus 9.5%) and polyps (14.3% versus 9.5%). Seven were converted to open surgery because of bleeding, adhesions and locally advanced disease. Laparoscopic-assisted procedures performed included 1 right hemicolectomy, 5 left hemicolectomies, 9 anterior resections, 1 abdominal-perineal resection, 3 sigmoid colectomies, 11 colostomies and 1 Hartmann’s procedure. Mean perioperative time (146 min versus 125 min, P = 0.173) was comparatively longer. Mean duration for analgesic requirement (2.25 days versus 2.64 days, P = 0.05), mean length of stay (5.31 days versus 9.07 days, P <0.05), mean time to commencement of diet (2.91 days versus 4.05 days, P <0.001) and mean time to first bowel movement (2.57 days versus 4.10 days, P <0.001) were all comparatively shorter. General morbidity rates (17.1% versus 21.4%, P = 0.35) were lower. No local wound complications were found in our laparoscopic-assisted group. Patients who had undergone open surgery instead of the planned laparoscopic-assisted procedures fared more poorly. Conclusions: Laparoscopic-assisted colorectal procedures performed in well-selected patients are associated with shorter hospital stays, quicker return of bowel function and lower morbidity when compared to the matched open procedures. Early experience should be acquired from performing technically simple procedures in patients with benign conditions before progressing to definitive resections in those with cancer

Great strides in laparoscopic surgical techniques have been progressively made throughout the various surgical subspecialties. More procedures can be performed laparoscopically today than when the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy came to light in 1982.

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