Implementation of a standardized surgical technique in robot-assisted restorative rectal cancer resection: a single center cohort study

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BACKGROUND: Despite increasing focus on the technical performance of total mesorectal excision over recent decades, anastomotic leakage (AL) continues to be a serious complication for many patients, even in the hands of experienced surgical teams. This study describes implementation of standardized surgical technique in an effort to reduce variability, decrease the risk of anastomotic leakage, and improve associated short-term outcomes for rectal cancer patients undergoing robot-assisted restorative rectal resection (RRR).

METHODS: We evaluated all rectal cancer patients undergoing robot-assisted RRR at Aarhus University Hospital between 2017 and 2020. Six standardized surgical steps directed to improve anastomotic healing were mandatory for all RRR. Additional changes were made during the period with prohibition of systemic dexamethasone and limiting the use of endoscopic stapling devices.

RESULTS: The use of the full standardization, including all six surgical steps, increased from 40.3% (95% CI, 0.28-0.54) to 86.2% (95% CI, 0.68-0.95). The incidence of AL decreased from 21.0% (95% CI, 0.12-0.33) to 6.9% (95% CI, 0.01-0.23). Length of hospital stay (LOS) decreased from 6 days (range 2-50) to 5 days (range 2-26). The rate of patients readmitted within 90 days decreased from 21.0% (95% CI, 0.12-0.33), to 6.9% (95% CI, 0.01-0.23).

CONCLUSION: The full standardization was effectively implemented for rectal cancer patients undergoing robot-assisted RRR. The risk of AL, LOS and readmission decreased during the study period. A team focus on high-reliability and peri-operative complications can improve patient outcomes.

TidsskriftBMC Surgery
Sider (fra-til)360
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - 2022

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