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Dig Dis. 2012;30(1):114-7. doi: 10.1159/000335916. Epub 2012 May 3.

Differences in early outcomes after open or laparoscopic surgery: what is the evidence?

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King's College Hospital, London, UK.


Laparoscopic surgery has been widely studied in colorectal cancer and its feasibility and safety have been proven to the extent that in the UK a national laparoscopic colorectal surgery programme has been established. The advantages of laparoscopic surgery have been studied less systematically in diverticular disease. Several prospective uncontrolled studies have demonstrated that laparoscopic surgery for diverticular disease is feasible with low morbidity and mortality rates. A large population study in the USA has demonstrated elective laparoscopic surgery for diverticular disease to have reduced hospital stay by 1 day, and a lower rate of intra-operative and post-operative complications over open surgery. Some of the reported differences may be attributable to selection bias of more complex cases to open surgery. A Cochrane systematic review examining 11 non-randomized and 1 randomized study showed laparoscopic surgery to be feasible in diverticular disease, although there might be a higher minor complications rate in laparoscopic resections. Attention has been focused on surgical techniques as means to reduce complications. There is a belief that preservation of the inferior mesenteric and superior rectal artery protects from anastomotic leak, but a study from the USA looking into that point did not find a difference. The application of hand-assisted laparoscopy seems to help cope with complex diverticular masses and colovesical fistulas. New hybrid techniques incorporating specimen extraction via rectum may reduce complications further. Single incision laparoscopic surgery has recently been shown to be feasible. Although minimally invasive techniques appear superior in terms of early outcomes than open surgery the choice of minimally invasive technique seems to be less relevant to outcomes if accompanied by an appropriate level of surgical experience and expertise. Patient-related factors such as comorbidities or degree of disease complexity are more likely to be related to complication rates.

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