From the Journals

Expert panel publishes consensus on robotic TME



A group of expert robotic colorectal surgeons have published what they claim is the first European consensus on standards for total mesorectal excision (TME) and anterior resection in robotic rectal surgery in an effort to establish uniform training and education and improve outcomes for the robotic operations.

Medical Team Performing Surgical Operation in Modern Operating Room gorodenkoff/iStock/Getty Images

“The aim of this consensus study was to establish a detailed description of technical steps for robotic anterior resection and TME of the rectum as recommended by a representative group of established European expert surgeons,” wrote Danilo Miskovic, PhD, FRCS, of St. Mark’s Hospital in London, and his coauthors. The study, published in Colorectal Disease, provides a baseline for technical standards and structured training in robotic rectal surgery.

The consensus authors acted at the behest of the European Academy for Robotic Colorectal Surgery (EARCS), a nonprofit organization that provides training for robotic colorectal surgery. They cited evidence suggesting that the robotic approach to TME confers significant benefits in selected patients, compared with laparoscopic surgery (Dis Colon Rectum. 2014;57:570-7), but that the ROLARR trial found no benefit with robotic surgery (Int J Colorectal Dis. 2012;27:233-41).

“Notwithstanding the absence of evidence, robotic surgery continues to increase in popularity in many countries,” Dr. Miskovic and his coauthors wrote.

The consensus statement covers recommendations for the da Vinci Si and Xi robotic platforms in the following areas.

  • Surgical setup, including patient positioning and port placement and docking.
  • Colonic mobilization, including vascular pedicle dissection and splenic flexure mobilization.
  • Pelvic dissection, including establishing operative planes and specimen extraction.

Dr. Miskovic and his coauthors arrived at the consensus statement by asking 24 EARCS faculty members to complete a 72-item questionnaire. The initial responses yielded an 87% agreement among the responses, but after suggested modifications, the average level of agreement for all items was 97%.

One of the limitations of the study that the investigators acknowledged is that it covers only two da Vinci robotic platforms; the recommendations may not apply to new robotic systems. Secondly, a selected group of experts provided input. “There may be other experienced surgeons who might disagree with some aspects of our recommendations,” the authors wrote. “This document should therefore be seen as a foundation for debate and modification in light of future technical developments.”

Future research should evaluate how training of technical standards within a group like EARCS impacts clinical outcomes, Dr. Miskovic and his coauthors noted.

The investigators had no financial relationships to report. Participating surgeons are members of the EARCS faculty and/or its scientific committee

SOURCE: Miskovic D et al. Colorectal Dis. 2018 Nov 29. doi: 10.1111/codi.14502.

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