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World J Surg. 1997 Sep;21(7):715-20.

Abdominoperineal resection via total mesorectal excision and autonomic nerve preservation for low rectal cancer.

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  • 1Colorectal Service, Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, New York 10021, USA.


We have examined the results of abdominoperineal resection (APR) for primary cancer of the rectum performed in accordance with the principles of total mesorectal excision (TME) and autonomic nerve preservation (ANP). TME is defined as sharp pelvic dissection under direct vision between the parietal and visceral planes of the pelvic fascia. TME results in the resection of all mesorectal disease with intact, negative lateral or circumferential margins of resection. Statistical analysis was done of survival, local recurrence, and both sexual and urinary functions in a prospective database of consecutive patients. Operative mortality was 2% (3/148) due to cardiac disease. Overall survival was 60%, significantly worse than consecutive patients from the same database who were able to undergo sphincter preservation (81%) (p = 0.0003). Poorer survival was statistically related to the presence of positive lymph nodes (p = 0.0009). Overall, local recurrence rates were 5% (8/148) in patients without distant metastases, and 15% to 21% in patients with positive nodes. Positive lymph nodes, N2 disease, lymphatic vascular invasion, and perineural invasion were independent significant risk factors for local recurrence. Sexual function was preserved in approximately 57% of patients undergoing APR versus 85% of patients undergoing sphincter preservation. No significant urinary morbidity was encountered. Low rectal cancer requiring APR seems to be a disease with more locally advanced disease and adverse pathologic features than are seen with mid-rectal cancers treatable by low anterior resection. APR when performed in accordance with the principles of TME and ANP ensures the greatest likelihood of resecting all regional disease while preserving both sexual and urinary functions. Preoperative combined modality treatment may be warranted in all T3 or greater low rectal cancers.

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