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Swiss Surg. 1997;3(6):248-54.

TEM--minimal invasive therapy of rectal cancer?

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Berlin, Charité.


The aim of this study is to outline the use of transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) for local excision of rectal carcinoma. Thus the clinical and long-term results regarding endorectal excision of the rectal lesions at the University Hospital of Cologne and Berlin will be presented. During the period July 1983 till December 1993 the system has been employed on 405 cases (17.8% carcinomas) at the University Hospital of Cologne and on 60 cases (20% carcinomas) during the period September 1994 till September 1996 at the University Hospital of Berlin, Charité. Early postoperative complications consisted of intraperitoneal perforations (five cases); rectovaginal fistulas (four cases); haemorrhages (four cases), death due to cardiopulmonary failure (two cases). All the complications occurred within the first 4 years of the learning phase. The cancer-specific 3-year survival rate of patients with "low risk" pT1 cancers amounted to 91%. Two recurrences after local excision of pT1 cancers occurred 1 year postoperatively, which were treated successfully using the TEM system. Most of the histologic findings of the subsequent radical operations following local resections of infiltrative rectal cancers revealed that the carcinoma had already been totally removed. The main indication for TEM is the removal of sessile adenomas. Early rectal carcinomas (pT1) of the "low risk" type, with favourable histological grading (grade 1 and 2) and clinical staging (CS I) were also considered for endorectal therapeutical approach. Even though our initial results do show encouraging results, regarding endorectal excision of pT2 cancers, more experience is needed to clarify the indication for locally amenable pT2 cancers of the "low risk" type and rule out the role of adjuvant therapy after complete excision of these carcinomas. The indication for TEM encloses also confined (< 4 cm) infiltrative cancers (> pT1) in cases where the patient is unwilling to undergo extensive surgery or due to medical reasons. The technique allows accurate endoscopic microsurgical excision of early cancers for cure with minimal morbidity and excellent presentation of specimen for complete histological analysis. Diligent follow-up is mandatory, since most (60-80%) of local recurrences can be treated successfully. Thus demolitive surgery can be avoided in selected cases with rectal cancer.

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