Recent advances in minimally invasive colorectal cancer surgery

M. W. Wichmann, G. Meyer, M. K. Angele, F. W. Schildberg, H. G. Rau

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Laparoscopy has improved surgical treatment of various diseases due to its limited surgical trauma and has developed as an interesting therapeutic alternative for the resection of colorectal cancer. Despite numerous clinical advantages (faster recovery, less pain, fewer wound and systemic complications, faster return to work) the laparoscopic approach to colorectal cancer therapy has also resulted in unusual complications, i.e. ureteral and bladder injury which are rarely observed with open laparotomy. Moreover, pneumothorax, cardiac arrhythmia, impaired venous return, venous thrombosis as well as peripheral nerve injury have been associated with the increased intraabdominal pressure as well as patient's positioning during surgery. Furthermore, undetected small bowel injury caused by the grasping or cauterizing instruments may occur with laparoscopic surgery. In contrast to procedures performed for nonmalignant conditions, the benefits of laparoscopic resection of colorectal cancer must be weighed against the potential for poorer long-term outcomes of cancer patients that still has not been completely ruled out. In laparoscopic colorectal cancer surgery, several important cancer control issues still are being evaluated, i.e. the extent of lymph node dissection, tumor implantation at port sites, adequacy of intraperitoneal staging as well as the distance between tumor site and resection margins. For the time being it can be assumed that there is no significant difference in lymph node harvest between laparoscopic and open colorectal cancer surgery if oncological principles of resection are followed. As far as the issue of port site recurrence is concerned, it appears to be less prevalent than first thought (range 0-2.5%), and the incidence apparently corresponds with wound recurrence rates observed after open procedures. Short-term (3-5 years) survival rates have been published by a number of investigators, and survival rates after laparoscopic surgery appears to compare well with data collected after conventional surgery for colorectal cancer. However, long-term results of prospective randomized trials are not available. The data published so far indicate that the oncological results of laparoscopic surgery compare well with the results of the conventional open approach. Nonetheless, the limited information available from prospective studies leads us to propose that minimally invasive surgery for colorectal cancer surgery should only be performed within prospective trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-323
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Laparoscopic surgery


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