Professor Wenju Chang from the Department of General Surgery, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University assesses some robotic colorectal surgery studies.

Below are the eight citations used in the video.

Citation 1

Robot-assisted versus laparoscopic surgery for rectal cancer: a phase II open label prospective randomized controlled trial.

2018 10.13. DOI: 10.1097/SLA.000000000000232.


Objective: The phase II randomized controlled trial aimed to compare the outcomes of robot-assisted surgery with those of laparoscopic surgery in the patients with rectal cancer.

Background: The feasibility of robot-assisted surgery over laparoscopic surgery for rectal cancer has not been established yet.

Methods: Between February 21, 2012 and March 11, 2015, patients with rectal cancer (cT1-3NxM0) were enrolled. Patients were randomized 1:1 to either robot-assisted or laparoscopic surgery, and stratified per sex and administration of preoperative chemoradiotherapy. The primary outcome was the quality of total mesorectal excision (TME) specimen. Secondary outcomes were the circumferential and distal resection margins, the number of harvested lymph nodes, morbidity, bowel function recovery, and quality of life.

Results: A total of 163 patients were randomly assigned to the robot-assisted (n = 81) and laparoscopic (n = 82) surgery groups, and 139 patients were eligible for the analyses (73 vs 66, respectively). One patient (1.2%) in the robot-assisted group was converted to open surgery. The TME quality did not differ between the robot-assisted and laparoscopic groups (80.3% vs 78.1% complete TME, respectively; 18.2% vs 21.9% nearly complete TME, respectively; P = 0.599). The resection margins, number of harvested lymph nodes, morbidity, and bowel function recovery also were not significantly different. On analyzing quality of life, scores of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life (EORTC QLQ C30) and EORTC QLQ CR38 were similar in the 2 groups, but in the EORTC QLQ CR 38 questionnaire, sexual function 12 months postoperatively was better in the robot-assisted group than in the laparoscopic group (P = 0.03).

Conclusions: Robot-assisted surgery in rectal cancer showed TME quality comparable with that of laparoscopic surgery, and it demonstrated similar postoperative morbidity, bowel function recovery, and quality of life.

Citation 2

Effect of robotic-assisted vs conventional laparoscopic surgery on risk of conversion to open laparotomy among patients undergoing resection for rectal cancer: the ROLARR randomized clinical trial

DOI: 10.1001/jama.2017.7219


Importance: Robotic rectal cancer surgery is gaining popularity, but limited data are available regarding safety and efficacy.

Objective: To compare robotic-assisted vs conventional laparoscopic surgery for risk of conversion to open laparotomy among patients undergoing resection for rectal cancer.

Design, setting, and participants: Randomized clinical trial comparing robotic-assisted vs conventional laparoscopic surgery among 471 patients with rectal adenocarcinoma suitable for curative resection conducted at 29 sites across 10 countries, including 40 surgeons. Recruitment of patients was from January 7, 2011, to September 30, 2014, follow-up was conducted at 30 days and 6 months, and final follow-up was on June 16, 2015.

Interventions: Patients were randomized to robotic-assisted (n = 237) or conventional (n = 234) laparoscopic rectal cancer resection, performed by either high (upper rectum) or low (total rectum) anterior resection or abdominoperineal resection (rectum and perineum).

Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was conversion to open laparotomy. Secondary end points included intraoperative and postoperative complications, circumferential resection margin positivity (CRM+) and other pathological outcomes, quality of life (36-Item Short Form Survey and 20-item Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory), bladder and sexual dysfunction (International Prostate Symptom Score, International Index of Erectile Function, and Female Sexual Function Index), and oncological outcomes.

Results: Among 471 randomized patients (mean [SD] age, 64.9 [11.0] years; 320 [67.9%] men), 466 (98.9%) completed the study. The overall rate of conversion to open laparotomy was 10.1%: 19 of 236 patients (8.1%) in the robotic-assisted laparoscopic group and 28 of 230 patients (12.2%) in the conventional laparoscopic group (unadjusted risk difference = 4.1% [95% CI, -1.4% to 9.6%]; adjusted odds ratio = 0.61 [95% CI, 0.31 to 1.21]; P = .16). The overall CRM+ rate was 5.7%; CRM+ occurred in 14 (6.3%) of 224 patients in the conventional laparoscopic group and 12 (5.1%) of 235 patients in the robotic-assisted laparoscopic group (unadjusted risk difference = 1.1% [95% CI, -3.1% to 5.4%]; adjusted odds ratio = 0.78 [95% CI, 0.35 to 1.76]; P = .56). Of the other 8 reported prespecified secondary end points, including intraoperative complications, postoperative complications, plane of surgery, 30-day mortality, bladder dysfunction, and sexual dysfunction, none showed a statistically significant difference between groups.

Conclusions and relevance: Among patients with rectal adenocarcinoma suitable for curative resection, robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery, as compared with conventional laparoscopic surgery, did not significantly reduce the risk of conversion to open laparotomy. These findings suggest that robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery, when performed by surgeons with varying experience with robotic surgery, does not confer an advantage in rectal cancer resection.
Trial registration: Identifier: ISRCTN80500123.

Citation 3

Robotic versus laparoscopic minimally invasive surgery for rectal cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

2018 10.13. DOI: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000002523.


Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of elective rectal resection for rectal cancer in adults by robotic surgery compared with conventional laparoscopic surgery.

Summary of background data: Technological advantages of robotic surgery favor precise dissection in narrow spaces. However, the evidence base driving recommendations for the use of robotic surgery in rectal cancer primarily hinges on observational data.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE, Embase, and CENTRAL for randomized controlled trials (until August 2016) comparing robotic surgery versus conventional laparoscopic surgery. Data on the following endpoints were evaluated: circumferential margin status, mesorectal grade, number of lymph nodes harvested, rate of conversion to open surgery, postoperative complications, and operative time. Data were summarized as relative risks (RR) or weighted mean differences (WMDs) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs). Risk of bias of studies was assessed with standard methods.

Results: Five trials were eligible, including 334 robotic and 337 laparoscopic surgery cases. Meta-analysis showed that RS was associated with lower conversion rate (7.3%; 4 studies, 544 participants, RR 0.58; 95% CI 0.35-0.97, P = 0.04, I = 0%) and longer operating time (MD 38.43 minutes, 95% CI 31.84-45.01: P < 0.00001) compared with laparoscopic surgery. Perioperative mortality, rate of circumferential margin involvement (2 studies, 489 participants, RR 0.82, 95% CI 0.39-1.73), and lymph nodes collected (mean 17.4 Lymph Nodes; 5 trials, 674 patients, MD -0.35, 95% CI -1.83 to 1.12) were similar. The quality of the evidence was moderate for most outcomes.

Conclusion: Evidence of moderate quality supports that robotic surgery for rectal cancer produces similar perioperative outcomes of oncologic procedure adequacy to conventional laparoscopic surgery. Robotic surgery portraits lower rate of conversion to open surgery, while operating time is significantly longer than by laparoscopic approach.

Citation 4

Open versus Laparoscopic versus Robotic versus Transanal Mesorectal Excision for rectal cancer: a systematic review and network meta-analysis

2019 10.13. DOI: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000003227


Objective: To compare techniques for rectal cancer resection.

Summary background data: Different surgical approaches exist for mesorectal excision.

Methods: Systematic literature review and Bayesian network meta-analysis performed.

Results: Twenty-nine randomized controlled trials included, reporting on 6237 participants, comparing: open versus laparoscopic versus robotic versus transanal mesorectal excision. No significant differences identified between treatments in intraoperative morbidity, conversion rate, grade III/IV morbidity, reoperation, anastomotic leak, nodes retrieved, involved distal margin, 5-year overall survival, and locoregional recurrence. Operative blood loss was less with laparoscopic surgery compared with open, and with robotic surgery compared with open and laparoscopic. Robotic operative time was longer compared with open, laparoscopic, and transanal. Laparoscopic operative time was longer compared with open. Laparoscopic surgery resulted in lower overall postoperative morbidity and fewer wound infections compared with open. Robotic surgery had fewer wound infections compared with open. Time to defecation was longer with open surgery compared with laparoscopic and robotic. Hospital stay was longer after open surgery compared with laparoscopic and robotic, and after laparoscopic surgery compared with robotic. Laparoscopic surgery resulted in more incomplete or nearly complete mesorectal excisions compared with open, and in more involved circumferential resection margins compared with transanal. Robotic surgery resulted in longer distal resection margins compared with open, laparoscopic, and transanal.

Conclusions: The different techniques result in comparable perioperative morbidity and long-term survival. The laparoscopic and robotic approaches may improve postoperative recovery, and the open and transanal approaches may improve oncological resection. Technique selection should be based on expected benefits by individual patient.

Citation 5

Short-term and long-term outcomes in mid and low rectal cancer with robotic surgery

DOI: 10.3389/fonc.2021.603073


Objective: To investigate the risk factors for postoperative complications and anastomotic leakage after robotic surgery for mid and low rectal cancer and their influence on long-term outcomes.

Methods: A total of 641 patients who underwent radical mid and low rectal cancer robotic surgery at Zhongshan Hospital Fudan University from January 2014 to December 2018 were enrolled in this study. The clinicopathological factors of the patients were collected. The risk factors for short-term outcomes of complications and anastomotic leakage were analyzed, and their influences on recurrence and overall survival were studied.

Results: Of the 641 patients, 516 (80.5%) underwent AR or LAR procedures, while 125 (19.5%) underwent the NOSES procedure. Only fifteen (2.3%) patients had stoma diversion. One hundred and seventeen patients (17.6%) experienced surgical complications. Anastomotic leakage occurred in 44 patients (6.9%). Eleven patients (1.7%) underwent reoperation within 90 days after surgery. Preoperative radiotherapy did not significantly increase anastomotic leakage in our study (7.4% vs. 6.8%, P = 0.869). The mean postoperative hospital stay was much longer with complication (10.4 vs. 7.1 days, P<0.05) and leakage (12.9 vs. 7.4 days, P < 0.05). Multivariate analysis showed that male sex (OR = 1.855, 95% CI: 1.175-2.923, P < 0.05), tumor distance 5 cm from the anus (OR = 1.563, 95% CI: 1.016-2.404, P < 0.05), and operation time length (OR = 1.563, 95% CI: 1.009-2.421, P < 0.05) were independent risk factors for complications in mid and low rectal cancer patients. The same results for anastomotic leakage: male sex (OR = 2.247, 95% CI: 1.126-4.902, P < 0.05), tumor distance 5 cm from the anus (OR = 2.242, 95% CI: 1.197-4.202, P < 0.05), and operation time length (OR = 2.114, 95% CI: 1.127-3.968, P < 0.05). The 3-year DFS and OS were 82.4% and 92.6% with complication, 88.4% and 94.0% without complication, 88.6% and 93.1% with leakage, and 87.0% and 93.8% without leakage, respectively. The complication and anastomotic leakage showed no significant influences on long-term outcomes.

Conclusion: Being male, having a lower tumor location, and having a prolonged operation time were independent risk factors for complications and anastomotic leakage in mid and low rectal cancer. Complications and anastomotic leakage might have no long-term impact on oncological outcomes for mid and low rectal cancer with robotic surgery.

Citation 6

Robotic colorectal cancer surgery in China: a nationwide retrospective observational study

DOI: 10.1007/s00464-020-08157-4


Background: Robotic colorectal cancer surgery is widely accepted and applied. However, there is still no objective and comprehensive assessment on the data of nationwide multicenter series.

Method: A total of 28 medical centers in Mainland China participated in this nationwide retrospective observational study. From the first case performed in each center to the last until December 2017, patients with robotic resection for primary tumor and pathologically confirmed colorectal adenocarcinoma were consecutively enrolled. Clinical, pathological and follow-up data were collected and analyzed.

Results: A total of 5389 eligible patients were finally enrolled in this study, composing 72.2% of the total robotic colorectal surgery volume of Mainland China in the same period. For resections of one bowel segment of primary tumor, the postoperative mortality rate was 0.08% (4/5063 cases), and the postoperative complication rate (Clavien-Dindo grade II or higher) was 8.6% (434/5063 cases). For multiple resections, the postoperative mortality rate was 0.6% (2/326 cases), and the postoperative complication rate was 16.3% (53/326 cases). Out of 2956 patients receiving sphincter-preserving surgery in only primary resection, 130 (4.4%) patients had anastomotic leakage. Traditional low anterior resection (tumor at middle rectum) (OR 2.384, P < 0.001), traditional low anterior resection (tumor at low rectum) (OR 1.968, P = 0.017) and intersphincteric resection (OR 5.468, P = 0.006) were significant independent risk factors for anastomotic leakage. Female gender (OR 0.557, P = 0.005), age ≥ 60 years (OR 0.684, P = 0.040), and preventive stoma (OR 0.496, P = 0.043) were significant independent protective factors. Body mass index, preoperative chemotherapy/radiotherapy, tumor size, and TNM stage did not independently affect the occurrence of anastomotic leakage.

Conclusion: Robotic colorectal cancer surgery was safe and reliable and might have advantages in patients at high risk of anastomotic leakage.

Citation 7

Short-term and long-term outcomes of robotic rectal surgery-from the real word data of 1145 consecutive cases in China 

DOI: 10.1007/s00464-019-07170-6


Background: Due to a limited patient sample size, substantial data on robotic rectal resection (RRR) is lacking. Here, we reported a large consecutive cases from the real word data to assess the safety and efficacy of RRR.

Methods: From September 2010 to June 2017, a total of 1145 consecutive RRR procedures were performed in patients with stage I-IV disease. We conducted an analysis based on information from a prospectively designed database to evaluate surgical outcomes, urogenital function, and long-term oncological outcomes.

Results: Of three types of RRR performed, 227 (24.2%) were abdominoperineal resections, 865 (75.5%) were anterior resections, and 3 (0.3%) were Hartmann. Conversion to an open procedure occurred in 5.9% of patients. The overall positive circumferential margin rate was 1.3%. Surgical complication rate and mortality were 16.2% and 0.8% within 30 days of surgery, respectively. Mean hospital stay after surgery and hospital cost were 6.3 ± 2.9 days and 10442.5 ± 3321.5 US dollars, respectively. Risk factors for surgical complications included male gender, tumor location (mid-low rectum), combined organ resection, and clinical T category (cT3-4). Urinary function and general sexual satisfaction decreased significantly 1 month after surgery for both sexes. Subsequently, both parameters increased progressively, and the values 1 year after surgery were comparable to those measured before surgery. At a median follow-up of 34.6 months, local recurrence and distant metastases occurred in 2.3% and 21.1% of patients, respectively.

Conclusions: Robotic rectal resection was safe with preserved urogenital function and arrived equivalent oncological outcomes in a nonselected group of patients with rectal cancer.

Citation 8

A trinity technique for prevention of low rectal anastomotic leakage in the robotic era

DOI: 10.1016/j.ejso.2020.07.044


Background: Anastomotic leakage (AL) is a severe complication of low anterior resection (LAR) for rectal cancer, and effective prevention is urgently needed. In the robotic era, this study aimed to explore the role of innovative techniques in preventing AL in rectal cancer patients undergoing robotic LAR.

Methods: From May 2012 to May 2017, a total of 601 patients underwent robotic LAR, with 191 patients participated as control subjects (non-PST group) and 410 patients are subjected to a trinity technique (PST group). The AL rate, short-term and long-term outcomes are analyzed and compared.

Results: The overall rate of AL was 6.8% out of 601 patients, with Grade B at 5.7% and Grade C at 1.1%, using the ISREC grading system. The PST group presented lower incidence of both overall AL (5.1% vs 10.5%, P = 0.015) and major AL (0.2% vs 3.2%, P = 0.005), when compared with the non-PST group, respectively. Furthermore, the PST group had similar surgical complications (17.3% vs 20.9%, P = 0.286), while with lower re-hospitalization rate (2.7% vs 6.3%, P = 0.038) and reoperation rate (0.2% vs 4.2%, P = 0.001), compared with the non-PST group, respectively. Short-term recovery and long-term oncological outcomes were not significant in the two groups. By multivariate logistic regression models, the risk factors of AL of robotic LAR are confirmed as non-PST technique, estimated blood loss ≥100 mL, anastomosis from anal verge <5 cm, and distal resection margin from tumor <2 cm.

Conclusions: The innovative PST technique may shed light on an effective method for preventing occurrence of AL in robotic LAR.