Background: Laparoscopic, robot-assisted, and transanal total mesorectal excision are the minimally invasive techniques used most for rectal cancer surgery. Because data regarding oncologic results are lacking, this study aimed to compare these three techniques while taking the learning curve into account.
Methods: This retrospective population-based study cohort included all patients between 2015 and 2017 who underwent a low anterior resection at 11 dedicated centers that had completed the learning curve of the specific technique. The primary outcome was overall survival (OS) during a 3-year follow-up period. The secondary outcomes were 3-year disease-free survival (DFS) and 3-year local recurrence rate. Statistical analysis was performed using Cox-regression.
Results: The 617 patients enrolled in the study included 252 who underwent a laparoscopic resection, 205 who underwent a robot-assisted resection, and 160 who underwent a transanal low anterior resection. The oncologic outcomes were equal between the three techniques. The 3-year OS rate was 90% for laparoscopic resection, 90.4% for robot-assisted resection, and 87.6% for transanal low anterior resection. The 3-year DFS rate was 77.8% for laparoscopic resection, 75.8% for robot-assisted resection, and 78.8% for transanal low anterior resection. The 3-year local recurrence rate was in 6.1% for laparoscopic resection, 6.4% for robot-assisted resection, and 5.7% for transanal procedures. Cox-regression did not show a significant difference between the techniques while taking confounders into account.
Conclusion: The oncologic results during the 3-year follow-up were good and comparable between laparoscopic, robot-assisted, and transanal total mesorectal technique at experienced centers. These techniques can be performed safely in experienced hands.