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JSLS. 1997 Jul-Sep;1(3):217-24.

Laparoscopic colectomy: the absolute need for a standard operative technique.

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  • 11st Department of General and Thoracic Surgery, Fatebenefratelli Hospital, Milan, Italy.



The aim of this study is to review our experience performing laparoscopic colon surgery and to present the operative technique as used and standardized by us.


From April 1992 to December 1996, 158 consecutive patients underwent laparoscopic colon surgery. There were 92 females and 66 males, whose average age was 66.7 years (range 31-92); 134 patients (84.9%) were operated on for carcinoma, and the remaining 24 (14.1%) or benign disease.


There were 117 procedures completed laparoscopically out of 158 patients (74%); 103 colon resections (18 for benign disease and 95 for malignant disease), 7 Hartmann procedures, 3 for reversal of Hartmann's procedures, 1 rectopexy, and 3 ileotrasversostomies. Conversions were required in 41 out of 158 cases (25.9%); 19 of these cases, however, were converted to a laparoscopic-facilitated procedure. The most common causes for conversion were the presence of bulky tumors and/or tumors that contaminated adjacent structures (16/158), adhesions due to previous operations (8/158) or patient obesity (5/158). There were 31 complications (19.6%), 9 of which required re-operation. There was only one recurrence (0.9%) that manifested 15 months after the procedure, at both trocar and drainage sites, and with peritoneal carcinomatosis. This occurred in a patient with rectal neoplasia who suffered a perforation of the rectum during dissection, with bowel spillage. The average number of lymph nodes harvested in resected specimens was 12.8 (range 1-41), whereas the mean distance of the tumor from the proximal margin of resection was 11.5 cm (range 5-35), and from the distal margin 7.5 cm (range 1-25). The average operative time was 165 minutes (range 40-360), and the mean hospital stay was 9.2 days (range 6-40). There were three mortalities out of 158 patients (1.9%).


Laparoscopic colon resection for malignant lesions, performed with the highest respect for oncologic principles, has demonstrated that it is difficult to develop a barrier to wall and intraluminal recurrence. Recurrence, in our opinion, is caused by improper surgical technique. Therefore, neoplastic colon laparoscopic surgery must be the prerogative of selected and specialized centers.

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