Conference Coverage

Time to embrace minimally invasive colorectal surgery?



– Two-thirds of colon resections in the United States are open procedures, but a colorectal surgeon told colleagues that evidence shows minimally invasive surgery deserves a wider place in his field.

Why? Because minimally invasive surgery – despite its limited utilization – is linked to multiple improved outcomes in colorectal surgery, said Matthew G. Mutch, MD, chief of colon and rectal surgery at Washington University, St. Louis, in a presentation at the Annual Minimally Invasive Surgery Symposium by Global Academy for Medical Education.

“Our goal should be to offer minimally invasive surgery to as many patients as possible by as many different methods as needed,” Dr. Mutch said. “If you’re willing to take this on and do this over a regular basis, you’ll get over that learning curve and expand the number of patients you can offer laparoscopy to.”

According to Dr. Mutch, benefits of minimally invasive colorectal surgery include:

  • Improved short-term outcomes – length of stay and return of bowel function, and morbidity and mortality. A 2012 retrospective study of 85,712 colon resections that found laparoscopic resections, when feasible, “had better outcomes than open colectomy in the immediate perioperative period.” (Ann Surg. 2012 Sep;256[3]462-8).
  • Improved long-term outcomes: faster recovery, fewer hernias, and fewer bowel obstructions.
  • Lower overall costs.
  • Fewer complications in the elderly.

When it comes to laparoscopic colorectal surgery, Dr. Mutch cautioned that the robotic technology has unclear benefit in rectal cancer, and the cost in colorectal cancer is unclear.

Another alternative is to perform laparoscopic colorectal surgery through alternative extraction sites such as the rectum, vagina, stomach, and even a stoma site or perineal wound. Both transanal and transvaginal extraction are feasible and safe, he said, adding that transvaginal procedures are best performed in conjunction with a hysterectomy. One benefit of these procedures is that they avoid abdominal wall trauma. However, he cautioned that colorectal surgery is unique because a cancerous specimen cannot be morcellated and must instead be removed whole.

Dr. Mutch also discussed laparoendoscopic resection of colon polyps. Benefits include shorter length of stay and faster recovery, he said, but complications can include perforation and bleeding. And, he said, there’s currently no code for the procedure.

Global Academy for Medical Education and this news organization are owned by the same parent company. Dr. Mutch has no relevant disclosures.